Cyprus in renewed push to extract natural gas as shortages loom in EU

Cyprus Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry Natasa Pilides attends an interview with Reuters at her office in the ministry in Nicosia, Cyprus October 7, 2022. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

NICOSIA, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Cyprus expects natural gas from its seas to become commercially available by 2027, its energy minister said on Friday, adding that Europe's energy crisis had put a renewed focus on how to expedite development of reserves in the east Mediterranean.

The island nation, a member of the European Union, reported its first find in 2011 and its most recent in August. Quantities have yet to be extracted.

"With the most recent discovery and the numbers that we have, we have about 12 to 15 tcf (trillion cubic feet) of natural gas potentially available for supply to the EU," Energy Minister Natasa Pilides said.

"We have initiated a discussion with the Commissioner of Energy ... on how we can expedite the process of developing and utilizing our own natural gas," she told Reuters in an interview.

Cyprus has a cluster of 13 offshore blocks rimming the south of the island, with most of them under licence. Partners in its oldest discovery, in 2011 of Aphrodite, plan a drilling early next year to affirm earlier estimates of around 4.5 tcf.

Authorities expect gas from Aphrodite to be commercially available in 2027. One of the main delivery scenarios in that case is gas being piped to LNG infrastructure in Egypt.

An additional scenario in the case of other discoveries within close proximity is establishing a floating LNG facility that would liquefy the gas for transfer onto ships for export, said Pilides, whose portfolio also covers commerce and industry.

"The idea is to find synergies between companies operating in nearby plots so we can have a plan on how to construct infrastructure which can be finished in a short period of time," Pilides said.

Officials from east Mediterranean states will be in Cyprus on Oct 13-14 for the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), a meeting of countries that seek to promote natural gas exports from the region. The EU, the United States and the World Bank have observer status.

EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson will address the forum and be present at the inauguration ceremony of the Euro-Asia Interconnector, a subsea cable that will traverse the Mediterranean carrying up to 2,000 megawatts of electricity that will eventually link grids from Israel and Cyprus to Greece.

Editing by Mark Porter

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