East Med: Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon & Israel, all looking for natural gas!

East Med: Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon & Israel, all looking for natural gas!

Recent activity observed in the Eastern Mediterranean region is particularly intense.  

This is not a direct challenge on the part of Turkey against the Republic of Cyprus because of the presence and activity of the Italian ENI in plot 3 of the Cypriot EEZ. Ankara has received a reply from the European Commission, which called on it to refrain from “frictions, threats or actions against a member state of the EU” that disturbed good neighbourly relations.

Egypt and Lebanon are fully prepared – vigilant, in order to take part in the “game”

Britain’s BP announced ob February 12 that it began six months earlier than its original planning to exploit the underwater Atoll Reservoir off the coast of Egypt, with a capacity of up to 300 million cubic metres of natural gas a day. These quantities, as reported on the official website of the company, are absorbed directly from the domestic market.

Bob Dudley, BP group chief executive, said: “BP is focused on delivering growth with discipline, carefully choosing and efficiently executing high-quality projects. The longstanding partnerships we have in Egypt allowed us to fast-track Atoll’s development and deliver first gas only 33 months after discovery. This is a further demonstration of our commitment to help realise Egypt’s oil and gas potential and meet the increasing demand from its growing population.”

BP North Africa Regional President, Hesham Mekawi commented on the subject: “Atoll is our first major project in Egypt to be delivered in 2018, following the West Nile Delta Taurus and Libra project and then Zohr last year. We are extremely proud of Atoll’s efficient execution through our joint venture, the Pharaonic Petroleum Company. Delivering this project at such an unprecedented pace, less than two years after sanction, and with an impeccable safety record is a tremendous achievement.”

BP announced the Atoll discovery in March 2015.

The main reservoir in the field contains an estimated 1.5 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas and 31 million barrels of condensates and further segments are under evaluation.

The discovery of the promising Zohr gas field, also off Egypt’s shores, by ENI and BP, attracts international investment interest, with other smaller-scale companies such as German DEA that wish to expand their activity in the region, moving to new investments.

Map: by Total

At the same time, in Lebanon, the open call and the first round of hydrocarbon licensing announced just over a year ago in January 2017, seems to have worked. The consortium headed by Total, comprising the EMI and the Russian Novatek, has signed agreements with the government of the country, to conduct exploratory drilling and then to produce hydrocarbons on plots 4 and 9 in Lebanon’s maritime region.

“An established player in Lebanon’s marketing sector, Total is delighted to expand its presence in the country to the exploration & production segment. These agreements are part of the Group’s exploration strategy in the Mediterranean region”, Stéphane Michel, Senior Vice President Middle East/ North Africa, Exploration & Production at Total, stated.

The consortium’s priority is to launch the first exploratory drilling in field 4 in 2019. “As for Block 9, Total and its partners are fully aware of the Israeli-Lebanese border dispute in the southern part of the block that covers only very limited area (less than 8% of the block’s surface). Given that, the main prospects are located more than 25km from the disputed area, the consortium confirms that the exploration well on Block 9 will have no interference at all with any fields or prospects located south of the border area”, stated Total.

The “appetite” has grown because of the Zohr gas field off the Egyptian coast, that is being exploited by the ENI and which characterises it as “the largest natural gas field in the Mediterranean”, capable of giving up to 850 billion cubic metres of natural gas.

Claudio Descalzi, ENI’s CEO, noted: “Zohr’s launch is the result of our ability, our technological innovation and our tenacity in pursuing even the most challenging of objectives and we should be very proud of ourselves. This discovery will transform energy in Egypt, allowing the country to become self-sufficient and change from being an importer of natural gas into a future exporter.”

But also the very recent confirmation by ENI that both Calypso, plot 6, in the Cypriot EEZ may potentially prove equally profitable. We can only wait for the results of the new exploratory drilling.

Photo: Platform Barbara C / ENI

Eni has signed two Exploration and Production Agreements with Lebanon covering Blocks 4 and 9, located in the deep waters offshore Lebanon. The agreements are the result of the first International Competitive Offshore Licensing Round launched by Lebanese Petroleum Authority last year…/IBNA

Main Photo: by ENI