South Cyprus Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis believes that if Total find sufficient quantities of gas when it drills in bloc 11 next year or if there are large enough amounts of gas discovered under new licensing, it could be feasible to construct a land-based liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant.
Although not currently on the South’s government agenda and given that global companies have cut back production, in the current climate, construction costs have fallen because of steel prices.
“A lot will depend on the size of the discovery: how big it is, what the prices would be at the time, what other conditions there are,” the minister told Cyprus Weekly. A big discovery could make LNG a viable option too, he said.
The minister refrained from making any further predictions until the amount of gas discovered was known.
“I will not talk about probabilities of success. Unless we drill, unless we reach the target depth, we cannot be sure, so allow me to be cautious here,” he said.
Plans to build an LNG plant were shelved in 2004, after disappointing finds in bloc 9 and 10. With falling gas prices and only the Aphrodite field, with an estimated 4.5 trillion cubic feet (tcf), having been discovered, the government changed its plans to sell gas to Egypt instead.
Prospects changed, however, in August 2015, when ENI discovered the massive 30 tcf Zohr field just 6 kilometres from the South Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Using the latest technology, ENI discovered the gas in the carbonate rocks of the Eratosthenes Seamount, most of which lies within the South’s EEZ.
“Certainly after Zohr we are seeing increased prospects in the Cyprus EEZ, especially because Zohr is fully associated with the Eratosthenes Seamount,” said Lakkotrypis, adding that it was a “completely new game”.
“It is one of main reasons why we published the third licensing round,” he said.