Noble Energy to start Cyprus natural gas appraisal drilling

NICOSIA, June 6 Thu Jun 6, 2013 10:27am EDT

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NICOSIA, June 6 (Reuters) - Noble Energy will begin drilling for natural gas at a new appraisal well off Cyprus on Friday, Cypriot officials said on Thursday.

The U.S. company, which reported a natural gas discovery of 5-8 trillion cubic feet southeast of the island in 2011, is conducting the appraisal to quantify and confirm the earlier find.

"The process is expected to last three to four months," Cyprus Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis said.

Cyprus, which received an international financial bailout earlier this year, is keen to develop untapped offshore gas reserves to power future economic growth.

Noble has rights over one offshore block south of Cyprus. France's Total and Italy's ENI, which have rights over other blocks, plan to drill for hydrocarbons by 2015.

The ENSCO 5006 drilling rig used by Noble was moved into position on June 1 and the well will be 5,607 metres deep, officials said.

Neighbouring Israel has reported significant natural gas finds, with two of its fields the largest discovered worldwide in the past decade. Lebanon, which also neighbours Cyprus, may have at least 30 trillion cubic feet in its waters, its energy minister said on May 31..

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