US energy giant ExxonMobil is set to start looking for natural gas reserves off the coast of western Crete and is optimistic of “future discoveries,” the company's vice president of Exploration for Europe, Russia and the Caspian has said.
“Discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean like Zohr, Leviathan [an Israeli natural gas field] and Aphrodite, are certainly very encouraging for this region, and they certainly suggest to us that there is the potential for future discoveries to be made, and that’s why we’re here exploring,” Tristan Aspray said in an interview with the South EU Summit website on Thursday.
“With respect to Greece, ourselves and Hellenic Petroleum and Total have been awarded – subject to final government approval – two very large licenses offshore southwest and western Crete. We're very excited about the potential of this area. It's a huge area that's never seen a single exploration well and I think there's great potential there,” Asprey said.
ExxonMobil and partner Qatar Petroleum started drilling in block 10 of Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in mid-November. Noble Energy made a significant discovery in the country's Aphrodite field in 2011, while last February, Italy’s ENI discovered Calypso in block 6, though confirmatory drilling is still pending.
“Cyprus has seen relatively few exploration wells drilled in its history. We would still regard it as frontier exploration acreage with significant remaining uncertainties,” Aspray said
“Success is far from guaranteed” but ExxonMobil is “optimistic about the prospects,” Aspray said. “There are clearly reservoirs that can contain this gas in commercial quantities at places like Zohr and Aphrodite and Calypso, and that’s very encouraging.”