ExxonMobil's crucial drilling plans to confirm a large gas deposit south of Cyprus have been put on hold, with a local media report citing delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Philenews, verification drilling that was scheduled to take place in Block 10 of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone has been pushed back to September 2021.
ExxonMobil reportedly wrote a letter last week informing the government of the Republic of Cyprus that scheduled drilling at two targets was being pushed back due to the coronavirus global outbreak and operational difficulties it has caused within the company.
Energy Minister Georgios Lakkotrypis was quoted as saying “the company has informed us regarding some delays over their planning, as these results are crucial in establishing whether natural gas deposit in the Republic of Cyprus’ EEZ can be commercially viable.”
Last year, the minister said initial findings were a good basis to explore the prospect of building an LNG plant in Cyprus, while clarifying that greater quantities would still be needed.
Steve Greenlee, ExxonMobil’s exploration company president, has said the initial results were encouraging in a “frontier exploration area” such as the eastern Mediterranean.
Last year, ExxonMobil announced that Glaucus-1, one of two targets in a program of two wells in block 10, was estimated to contain 5 to 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
The drilling was conducted by ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Cyprus (Offshore) as well as the Qatar Petroleum International Upstream OPC partnership. No viable quantities of hydrocarbons were discovered in Delphyne-1 within the same block.
“The potential for this newly discovered resource to serve as an energy source for regional and global markets will be evaluated further," Greenlee added.
Three other exploration drillings were scheduled last year for 2020, including the Kronos target in block 6, after France’s TOTAL and Italy’s ENI joined forces in seven blocks, with Korea’s KOGAS also taking part in some of them.
But reports suggested there was at least some delay as the drilling ship scheduled for the Total-Eni exploration this month was still in Lebanon, with logistical issues regarding transportation of staff and shipment of materials.