NICOSIA, July 11 Italian energy company ENI
will start exploratory drilling for natural gas off
Cyprus in the second half of 2014, its chief executive said on
ENI signed an exploration and production-sharing contract
with the Cypriot government in early 2013 to search for
hydrocarbons in three offshore areas.
Paolo Scaroni, ENI's chief executive officer, said the
company would launch an exploratory drilling in one offshore
block next year.
"We are focussed on gas, and we believe it is gas, but it
might very well be oil as well," Scaroni told reporters after
meeting senior Cypriot government officials and the president.
There have been huge natural gas finds in the eastern
Mediterranean in recent years. Cyprus, which required an
international financial bailout earlier this year, is keen to
get revenue from gas flowing as soon as possible.
U.S. based Noble Energy is conducting an appraisal
drill off the island to verify 2011 finds of a reservoir
containing 5 to 8 trillion cubic feet of gas.
Noble's concession areas lies just south of the area that
ENI plans to explore next year.
France's Total has also signed a
production-sharing contract for offshore exploration with the
The U.S. Geological Survey has estimated that the Levant
Basin, which lies largely in Cypriot and Israeli waters, holds
around 3.5 trillion cubic metres of recoverable gas.