NICOSIA (Dow Jones Newswires), Feb. 16, 2011
Noble said it hopes to start drilling for "sizable quantities of gas" off the coast of Cyprus later this year if all goes according to plan.
"Our intention is to accelerate the drilling off the well in Cyprus block 12," said Noble's vice president of international operations, Terry Gerhart, after meeting Cyprus President Demetris Christofias.
"Our hopes are to be able to start the well as early as the fourth quarter of 2011 or possibly slipping into 2012," he told reporters.
Gerhart said the Texas-based company had no exact estimate of the hydrocarbon deposits inside Cyprus's economic exclusive zone, but seismic surveys were "very favorable" indicating a "sizeable quantity."
He said that there were various options on the table such as constructing a pipeline to bring the gas to Cyprus.
"We are very excited about the prospect of working in Cyprus, finding some gas and being able to bring it to the Cypriot market."
Israeli company Delek is a partner of Noble, which has reported large reserves of natural gas in two Israeli offshore fields.
Delek and its Texan partner announced the discovery of 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Leviathan gas field some 60 kilometers from Cyprus's exclusive economic zone. Gas was also found in Israel's Tamar block even closer to the Mediterranean island.
It is touted to be one of the largest hydrocarbon finds of the past decade.
"We are working with Delek in Israel. They are our partners in Israel and we are looking forward to being a partner in Cyprus if approved," Gerhart said.
"We had quite a bit of success on the Israeli side with our discoveries of Tamar and Leviathan," he added.
Delek has proposed the creation of a liquefied natural gas facility on the island to process deposits Israel has discovered offshore and which Cyprus hopes to uncover.
Delek says such a deal would transform Cyprus from being totally reliant on gas and oil imports into a regional net exporter.
Cyprus and Israel have signed an agreement defining their sea border that allows them to forge ahead in the search for energy sources in the eastern Mediterranean.
Cyprus has signed delineation agreements with Egypt and Lebanon, which have agreed to mutually exploit hydrocarbon deposits that criss-cross their boundaries.
Noble has the rights to drill for hydrocarbons within a 1,250-square-mile area known as Block 12 close to the Israeli blocks. Cypriot officials believe the block could hold as much as 10 trillion cubic feet.
Cypriot Commerce Minister Antonis Paschalides said the full extent of the deposits beneath the sea won't be known until next year.
A second licensing round for offshore oil and gas exploration is scheduled for the latter half of this year after the process was first launched in 2007.
Turkey has voiced its disapproval of Cyprus's oil and gas search and reacted negatively to Israel, Egypt and Lebanon getting involved.
Copyright (c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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