The Republic of Cyprus has started surveying for natural gas, and recent estimates are that its undersea reserves are worth billions of dollars. Helped by Israel and America’s Noble Energy, the subterranean Cyprus discoveries could make the small island EU nation energy independent for 200 years, according to the Cyprus Mail. Deep drilling for gas also sparks environmental fears
The gas find, termed “historic” by Republic of Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, could be as much as 8 trillion cubic feet. The gas is said to be in Block 12 of the Aphrodite Gas Field, and it could be enough to power all the electricity on the island for 210 years.
In a press announcement, Charles D. Davidson, Noble Energy’s Chairman and CEO, said, “We are excited to announce the discovery of significant natural gas resources in Cyprus on Block 12. This is the fifth consecutive natural gas field discovery for Noble Energy and our partners in the greater Levant basin, with total gross mean resources for the five discoveries currently estimated to be over 33 Tcf. This latest discovery in Cyprus further highlights the quality and significance of this world-class basin.”
Davidson went on to say, “We would like to thank the Government of Cyprus for their productive cooperation and support in achieving an important outcome for the people of Cyprus and Noble Energy. We look forward to working closely with the Government of Cyprus to develop this discovery in a manner that maximizes value for all stakeholders.”
But exploration is one thing: actual commercial production is quite another. Due to the enormity of the costs involved in drilling offshore wells and turning the gas into liquified natural gas, Cyprus has turned to other countries for help. Besides making agreements with Israel, which has made significant gas discoveries of its own, the Cypriots have turned to the European Union as well. Turkey is not a member of the EU and given the EU’s recent financial crisis, it is unlikely that it will any time soon.
The country’s Commerce Minister, Praxoulla Antoniadou, was quoted as saying: “If you want an indication( of the value of the gas), if you consider that 6,000 cubic feet is equal to one barrel of oil, then approximately 7 tcf is equivalent to one billion barrels, and to give an indicative value of these deposits based on the barrel analogy, the deposits in one of the 13 blocks are worth around €100 billion in value.”
All of this has resulted in another regional power Turkey, to want its share of these gas deposits, especially in light of Turkey’s occupation of one third of the island, the northern half. Turkey’s involvement has reached a point where its naval vessels are now constantly present off Cypriot coastal waters.
Map of underseas gas fields
Israel and Turkey could wind up facing off in a “high noon” conflict situation that could very well lead to a military engagement.
Despite this worrisome possibility, the Government of Cyprus appears committed to undertaking this project as, in the words of Commerce Minister Antoniadou, “Cyprus is in a position to strengthen the energy security of the EU as we are the only country in the region that belongs to the EU.”
She added that now that nuclear energy is becoming less popular, in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown, natural gas is becoming more popular as an energy source.
Cyprus’ main opposition political party head is also impressed by the findings as has the government to formulate a comprehensive energy plan and provide true transparency in regards to details of the project.
The main hurdle will of course be Turkey’s role, which at present does not appear to be very friendly in regards to both the Greek backed Republic of Cyprus and of course towards its one-time ally Israel.
Read more about natural gas:
Israel and Cyprus align on Natural Gas and Renewables
Cyprus, Israel, and Turkey Near “High Noon” Standoff Over Med’s Natural Gas
Navies Circle Cyprus as it Explores Natural Gas
Cyprus Fears Environmental Impact of Undersea Gas Drilling