Noble Energy to start appraisal drilling off Cyprus by June -CEO

NICOSIA, April 9 Tue Apr 9, 2013 2:44pm EDT

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NICOSIA, April 9 (Reuters) - U.S. based Noble Energy Inc said on Tuesday it planned to start an appraisal drilling off Cyprus by June to verify previous findings of offshore gas.

Noble, which has reported significant findings off Israel over the past four years, made a natural gas discovery off neighbouring Cyprus in late 2011.

A liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal to process and subsequently export the gas was the preferred option of the company, though that was something that would be the subject of consultation with both countries, Noble President and Chief Executive Charles Davidson said.

Noble, which has concessions with Israel and Cyprus, has recovered an estimated 37 trillion cubic feet (tcf) in the sea basin lying between both countries, Davidson told a news briefing in Cyprus.

"Our view is that LNG is the best method for moving this to market ... I have suggested both here and in Israel that we believe that once you go to export outside of the domestic market that LNG is in our view the best option," Davidson said.

The discoveries far surpassed the domestic needs of Israel and Cyprus, he said.

An appraisal well to narrow down an estimated reserve of 5 trillion cubic feet to 8 trillion cubic feet (tcf) off Cyprus was due to start around June and last between 75 and 90 days. It would take up to three months after that to reach a definitive conclusion on Cypriot reserves, Davidson said.

Noble was awarded a production sharing contract by Cyprus in 2008. Davidson said it was also seeking a strategic partner for the project and had contacts with several companies. They were in consultation with the Cypriot government on the matter, he said.

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