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The authorities of Cyprus have announced their third offshore licensing round for oil and gas exploration in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), with 12 blocks up for grabs not far from Israel’s giant Leviathan gas field in the Levant Basin.
The 12 blocks are off the southern coast of Cyprus, near the Israeli Leviathan Basin discovered by Texas-based Noble Energy, which is also preparing to exploit another Cypriot gas block containing at least 4.5 trillion cubic feet.
In June last year, Noble Energy made a commercial find in the Aphrodite offshore natural gas field, thus confirming the potential of the EEZ.
Last month, French Total SA, Italian Eni and South Korean KOGAS extended their 2012 exploration licenses by an additional two years.
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BG International and Israel's Delek Drilling and Avner also own licenses here.
While Eni’s first attempts failed, its recent discovery of a natural gas field, Zohr, offshore Egypt contains an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of gas. Zohr is close to Cypriot Block 9, where Eni has reportedly found similar layers of carbonate.
Cyprus and Egypt are looking into the possibility of transferring gas from the Aphrodite field off the southern coast of Cyprus to Egypt via an undersea pipeline. Cyprus hopes to begin exporting gas by 2022.
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The new licensing round is likely to trigger strong protest from Turkey.
Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. U.N. led talks have been under way with a view to reunify the island under a federal roof. Turkey does not recognized Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone and opposes any exploration or exploitation until the dispute is resolved.
Turkey’s own plans for drilling oil and gas exploration wells offshore Cyprus, in areas that have already been licensed by the authorities of Cyprus, led to the collapse of peace talks last year.
An exact date for the third offshore round has not yet been issued.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com