NICOSIA, Oct 3 (Reuters) - A landmark natural gas well off Cyprus has produced less than anticipated, potentially delaying investment in a liquefied natural gas plant and plans for export by 2020.
Cyprus and its exploration partners, Texas-based Noble Energy, on Thursday announced an around 5 trillion cubic feet (tcf) natural gas find, lowering the initial estimate of 7 tcf made in late 2011.
One gas official said lower estimates could briefly delay plans to start work on a $6.0 billion liquefied natural gas terminal in 2016 until more wells off Cyprus are discovered, but that could be avoided with further appraisals of the prospect.
Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said the island was committed to seeing the LNG project through.
Even though lower than expected, the discovery was a rare glimmer of good news for Cyprus. It teetered on the brink of financial collapse in March with its one million inhabitants bracing themselves for at least two years of deep recession from an EU/IMF imposed austerity programme.
"Despite the lower quantities we announce today compared to those of 2011, the confirmed reserves affirm a particularly important reserve of natural gas," Lakkotrypis told reporters.
He said a "very preliminary" estimate, based on reserves of 4.5 tcf in Noble's prospect, placed its gross value at $50 billion.
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