Noble Energy eyes fresh appraisal for natgas off Cyprus

NICOSIA Mon Dec 9, 2013 7:01am EST

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NICOSIA Dec 9 (Reuters) - Texas-based Noble Energy could launch a fresh appraisal of quantities in a subsea natural gas reservoir off Cyprus next year, and look for new hydrocarbon sources in the same area, officials said on Monday.

The company discovered quantities of natural gas in a deepwater offshore well south of Cyprus in late 2011.

An appraisal drilling to verify the 2011 find has yielded on average 4.1 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas, Noble's Israel partners Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration said on Dec. 1.

That was lower than the 5 tcf announced in October soon after the conclusion of the appraisal on the well.

Noble Energy official J. Keith Elliot told reporters in Nicosia the company was looking at the need for further appraisal activity and other exploration opportunities.

"We are in the process now of evaluating what type of prospects there are in the block. We look for oil and gas but primarily we are looking for gas," said Elliot, senior vice president of Noble's east Mediterranean division.

Based on the assessment of data Noble could by April 2014 decide on where a fresh exploratory drill will take place, and whether a further appraisal of the existing well is required, said Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, Cyprus's energy minister.

Fresh drilling was not expected until October 2014 at the earliest, he said.

Noble has found vast quantities of natural gas off neighbouring Israel.

The company is also conducting talks with the Cypriot government on possible participation in a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant.

Asked whether 4.1 tcf was enough to justify an LNG plant, Elliot said more quantities were probably required.

"We are working with the teams to develop additional sourcing there ... as well as working with other co-ventures in the region offshore Cyprus," he said.

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