French energy giant Total will press ahead with its search for oil and gas off the coast of Cyprus, officials announced on Wednesday, weeks after the company indicated it might withdraw.
The announcement came following the signing of a deal by Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis and Total’s Cyprus operations chief Jean-Luc Porcheron, Cypriot officials said.
The deal envisions further exploration in Block 11, which lies within Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone off the island’s southern coast.
In January, Lakkotrypis said Total had failed to locate any targets to test drill in the blocks it is licensed to exploit.
That was confirmed by the company, which said it had finished its geological tests “without recognizing any potential drilling targets.”
But Total said it was discussing with Cypriot authorities “a potential program of additional exploration works in the area.”
Cyprus has ambitions to become a hub not only for its own gas exports but also for Israeli and even Lebanese ones, and needs to find more gas reserves to make a proposed land terminal financially viable.
It wants to build a liquefied natural gas plant at Vassiliko on the south coast and has commissioned US firm Noble Energy, with its Israeli partners Delek and Avner, as well as Total, to carry out feasibility studies.
But it seems there are insufficient reserves to make that option feasible.
Noble made the first offshore find in the Aphrodite field in 2011, which is estimated to contain 102 billion to 170 billion cubic meters (3.6-6 trillion cubic feet) of gas.