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Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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Could Cyprus Help Europe Replace Russian Natural Gas?

  • Europe is racing to replace Russian natural gas, and Cyprus is looking to help.
  • The Mediterranean newcome is home to an estimated 4.4 trillion cubic feet of gas.
  • Europe is the natural destination for that gas that has yet to be tapped, Cyprus energy minister Natasa Pilides told Bloomberg in an interview this week.
Natural Gas

The European Union’s rush to replace Russian natural gas with alternative sources has turned the spotlight on various gas producers in both established producing regions and emerging ones. In Cyprus, it has made gas exploration a strategic priority. The tiny island nation in the Mediterranean is a newcomer on the gas scene, which it entered in 2011 with the discovery of gas in the Aphrodite offshore field, which is estimated to hold some 4.4 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Operated by Chevron and Shell, along with an Israeli company, NewMed Energy, the Aphrodite field will soon be getting one more exploration well and Chevron will by the end of the year present its final development plan for the field’s development to the Cypriot government.

Europe is the natural destination for that gas that has yet to be tapped, Cyprus energy minister Natasa Pilides told Bloomberg in an interview this week. The country consumes a lot more gas than it can theoretically produce, and Europe is its closest market—and a thirsty one.

“Europe is a good potential customer for Cypriot gas as the EU has confirmed that natural gas will remain a bridge fuel up to 2049 as part of the green transition so companies now have the comfort of being able to secure long-term contracts,” Pilides told Bloomberg.

The official also noted the European Union’s intentions to stay on the course away from Russian gas whenever the Ukraine war ends, which would certainly foster a favorable environment for non-Russian gas suppliers to the continent.

The Aphrodite field is not the only one, either. Earlier this year, Italy’s Eni and France’s TotalEnergies began drilling for gas in an offshore block that a few years ago yielded a potentially substantial discovery.

Block 2 contains the Glaucus-2 appraisal well, which showed resources in place estimated at between 5 and 8 trillion cubic feet back in 2019. The Glaucus field was discovered by Exxon, which partnered with Qatar Petroleum. Now, the two European majors are also drilling there again.

A third major recent find in Cyprus was the Calypso field, with resources comparable with those estimated for Glaucus, discovered by Eni and TotalEnergies. Yet Cyprus’ transformation into a major regional gas hub has lagged behind demand and supply dynamics.

The development of the Aphrodite field, according to a Reuters report from 2020, has been delayed because the partners operating it have been renegotiating their production sharing agreement with the Cypriot government.

Related: Energy Spat Between Mexico And The U.S. Escalates

At Glaucus, the problem appears to have been insufficient resources for the plans Exxon had for the field.

“There is limited space in local markets and existing export infrastructure. And the volume is insufficient for ExxonMobil and its partner Qatar Petroleum to feed a two-train LNG plant – which had been the partnership’s goal,” Robert Morris, Wood Mac senior analyst, told Reuters in 2020.

Things have changed since then, for sure. Infrastructure may be lacking, but demand for any gas that does not come from Russia has spiked so sharply that it might have changed the economic case for Cypriot gas.

Challenges remain, however. Turkey, for one, is less than happy with Cyprus developing its gas resources, which Ankara disputes are Cyprus’ to develop. The long-running territorial dispute between Cyprus and Turkey is a sort of a chronic headache for Cyprus.

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There is the question of export infrastructure, too. Currently, there is an idea of building a pipeline from Israeli offshore fields to Cyprus by the fields’ operator, Energean, and then connecting this pipeline to a floating LNG production vessel, using both Israeli and Cypriot gas.

It will be a few years yet before Cyprus begins producing gas from all these substantial finds. First gas from the Aphrodite field, for instance, is expected in 2027. The Energean pipeline could be completed in 2026. Until then, Europe will have to make do with what it can find elsewhere.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Mamdouh Salameh on July 27 2022 said:
    The flashy title of your article gives readers the impression that they will be expecting an elephant. Instead they get a mouse.

    Even if Cyprus managed to produce and export to Europe at one go the entire reserves in the Aphrodite gas field estimated at 4.4 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas, this will amount to 1.59% of Russian annual gas supplies to the EU in normal circumstances.

    Moreover, Turkey will never allow Cyprus to produce any gas let alone exporting it until a fair share of the produce is given to the Turkish Cypriots.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London
  • Mamdouh Salameh on July 27 2022 said:
    This is a correction of my previous comments
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The flashy title of your article gives readers the impression that they will be expecting an elephant. Instead they get a mouse.

    Even if Cyprus managed to produce and export to Europe at one go the entire reserves in the Aphrodite gas field estimated at 4.4 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas, this will amount to 56% of Russian annual gas supplies to the EU in normal circumstances.

    Moreover, Turkey will never allow Cyprus to produce any gas let alone exporting it until a fair share of the produce is given to the Turkish Cypriots.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert
  • Dr Mark Middows on August 22 2022 said:
    "Moreover, Turkey will never allow Cyprus to produce any gas let alone exporting it until a fair share of the produce is given to the Turkish Cypriots." a comment made by Dr. Salameh

    Surely, as an expert you should have known that the Cypriot government maintains a separate fund for the Turkish Cypriot population that is proportional to their numbers? This small detail escapes your analysis yet you are eager to say such backward comment such as "Turkey will never allow". Turkey might try but "never allow"...wow, such confidence, such will, such certainty. As of now, the small island nation of Cyprus has found 3 successful and large wells in its sea. Any future interception by Turkey will be illegal and should not be entertained by level-minded scientist such as yourself.

    Dr Mark Middows
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

Leave a comment




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