ExxonMobil has discovered up to 227 bcm of natural gas at the Glaucus-1 well in Block 10 offshore Cyprus.
The US super-major and its partner Qatar Petroleum drilled two wells back-to-back in the block, but the second, called Delphyne-1, did not find commercial quantities of gas.
Cypriot Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakktotrypis announced the discovery at a press briefing in Nicosia, where he described Glaucus-1 as "world-class" and said it contained a high-quality reservoir. "This is one of the biggest discoveries in recent years worldwide," he said. "It adds to the country’s overall [gas] reserves and proves the potential of the Cyprus EEZ and the wider [East Med] region as well."
Tristan Aspray, ExxonMobil vice president for Europe, Russia and the Caspian, said the company and QP were "very encouraged by the results that we have seen in the well." He said the partners would now spend "several months analysing all the data we have gathered to better define the full commercial potential of the resource and map out its further appraisal."
While the discovery is good news for Cyprus, the resource on its own is not enough to revive the island’s plans to launch the construction of an LNG export project.
"We are at the start of a long journey towards potential development," Aspray told reporters when asked about the LNG option. "We have to analyse all our results before we can get into a specific development plan. Typically when developing offshore resources for LNG, it would require resources larger than this single deposit, but clearly we are just getting started with what we regard as a frontier area."
Noting that there was potential for more discoveries in Block 10, he also said the company might look to participate on other acreage offshore Cyprus, and that it had recently been awarded Block 3 offshore Egypt.
Asked about the size of resource required to establish an LNG plant, Aspray said there were a number of factors that would need to be considered before proceeding, but he said a ballpark figure would be 283-425 bcm.
ExxonMobil is not due "back in the water" in Block 10 until 2020, though Lakkotrypis noted that Italy’s Eni and France’s Total would begin a five-well drilling programme before the end of the year. Eni is the largest investor offshore Cyprus, with interests in Blocks 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11. It is partnered with Total in Blocks 6, 7 and 11.
A year ago, Eni made a gas discovery at the Calypso well in Block 6, which is also estimated at around 227 bcm.
QP and ExxonMobil operate one of the largest LNG production facilities in the world in Qatar.