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As widely expected, ExxonMobil said on Thursday that it had made a natural gas discovery southwest off Cyprus, which Cypriot authorities hailed as the largest find offshore the eastern Mediterranean island to date.
Exxon has been expected for a few weeks to announce that its drilling campaign offshore the southern coast of the divided island of Cyprus has resulted in a major gas discovery, potentially reigniting tension between Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey, which recognizes the northern Turkish Cypriot government and doesn’t have diplomatic relations with the internationally recognized government of Cyprus, claims that part of the Cyprus offshore area is under the jurisdiction of Turkish Cypriots or Turkey.
In a statement on Thursday, Exxon said that based on preliminary interpretation of data at the Glaucus-1 well, the natural gas discovery could represent an in-place natural gas resource of around 5 trillion to 8 trillion cubic feet (142 billion to 227 billion cubic meters).
Glaucus-1 was the second of a two-well drilling program in Block 10 offshore Cyprus. The first well, Delphyne-1, did not encounter commercial quantities of hydrocarbons, Exxon said.
“The potential for this newly discovered resource to serve as an energy source for regional and global markets will be evaluated further,” said Steve Greenlee, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Company.
The Energy Minister of Cyprus, Georgios Lakkotrypis, said, as carried by Reuters:
“This is the biggest find so far in Cyprus, and based on some official data it is one of the biggest finds worldwide in the past two years.”
“ExxonMobil & QatarPetroleum make a world-class discovery offshore Cyprus at Glaucus. A high-quality reservoir 5-8 TCF of NatGas is added to the country’s reserves and demonstrates the emergence of the Republic’s EEZ as an alternative indigenous source of supply to the EU,” Lakkotrypis tweeted today.
Last year in February, Eni and Total made a promising gas discovery offshore Cyprus that confirms that the Zohr-like play where Eni found the biggest gas deposit in the Mediterranean offshore Egypt extends into the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.
However, the greatest obstacle to its development is Turkey which says that part of the Cyprus offshore area is under the jurisdiction of the Turkish Cypriots. Turkey will never allow the Greek Cypriots to produce gas let alone export it without securing a share for the Turkish Cypriots.
Logic, therefore, dictates that the Greek and Turkish Cypriots should be encouraged to negotiate a production-sharing deal before ExxonMobil starts developing the gasfield or is stopped by Turkey from doing so.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London