The East Mediterranean could become a hub to export gas to Europe, argued an executive at the Italian utility Eni.
The fastest and cheapest way to meet gas demand was to use underused processing plants in Egypt, Eni’s exploration chief Luca Bertelli told a conference in Cyprus.
He said Eni’s recent discovery of the Calypso well in the block 6 gas field southeast of Cyprus contained “almost pure methane”, justifying more exploration.
Bertelli said Eni planned to conduct searches in two more areas off Cyprus where it was licensed to carry out exploratory drilling.
The executive told the industry event that the simplest way to process gas for export, especially to Greece and Turkey, was to employ idle processing plants in Egypt to liquefy the fossil fuel for transport.
Bertelli also said the consortium of Eni and Total was considering searching for more natural gas in offshore blocks 6 and 11.
He said more gas discoveries were necessary to ensure sufficient exports over the long term, making a pipeline linking the East Mediterranean with Europe more viable.
The Eni boss added that the results of the consortium’s exploratory drilling at two wells, dubbed Onisiforos and Calypso, had confirmed the presence of hydrocarbons formations in carbonate layers similar to Egypt’s massive Zohr gas field.
But Bertelli warned that “pragmatic, realistic” steps were needed in exploration because of the “geopolitically complex” nature of the region.
His speech avoided any reference to last month’s deployment of Turkish warships to block a drilling ship from carrying out exploration southeast of Cyprus in block 3, where Eni is also licensed to drill.
Ankara has repeatedly warned Cyprus against taking “unilateral steps” to explore and develop hydrocarbons.
Turkey has said it would block any drilling by the Republic of Cyprus’ Greek-Cypriot government without the direct involvement of the pariah state in the Turkish third of the island.
Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus, nor therefore the latter’s jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone.
The Cypriot energy minister, Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, said gas exploration would continue despite Turkish “provocations”.
He said talks to sell gas to Egypt from another gas field inside Cypriot waters were “at an advanced stage”.
ExxonMobil and its partner Qatar Petroleum are also scheduled to drill to the southwest of Cyprus later this year.
Eni is investing heavily in the eastern Mediterranean. Picture credit: YouTube