ExxonMobil’s drillship arrived in Cyprus’ Exclusive Zone. Drilling expected on 15 November.

ExxonMobil’s drillship arrived in Cyprus’ Exclusive Zone. Drilling expected on 15 November.

The Stena Icemax drillship, which is commissioned by US oil giant ExxonMobil for hydrocarbon, arrived on Sunday evening, 11th November 2018, in Block 10 of the Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) (http://www.ekathimerini.com/234575/article/ekathimerini/news/exxonmobil-drillship-in-block-10-of-cypruss-exclusive-economic-zone).

This follows the strong indications that natural gas finds will be high in Block 10, disclosed in August 2018 (https://cyprus-mail.com/2018/08/05/indications-that-gas-finds-will-be-high-in-block-10/).

Over the last couple of years, Cyprus has granted specialized companies drilling rights to explore its EEZ, with the objective to discover hydrocarbons and, more specifically, natural gas and petroleum.

Some of the biggest exploration companies in the world, such as Italy’s ENI, Korea’s KOGAS, France’s Total , and even the U.S.’ Noble Energy NBL, expressed interest in this pursuit and received licenses(https://www.forbes.com/sites/antonisantoniou/2018/11/10/exxonmobil-could-be-in-for-a-naval-battle/#fac942c4b8e2).

Works will be undertakenin the next few days, in order to stabilize the vessel with drilling in Block 10, which is expected to commence from 15th or 17th November 2018 up to 25th February 2019.

On 10th November 2018, Cyprus issued a navigational telex (navtex) advisory to all ships, prohibiting them from approaching within 500 meters of the drillship, with the aim to facilitate the search.

He stated how the Cyprus’ energy programme is moving forward and that it is imperative for the drill, which is vital to Cyprus energy plans, to move without a glitch.

He added, “That is why I, as well as my colleague the foreign minister, urge you [the media] to exercise a little restraint in what we say day-to-day about the drill. We have got off to a good start, on schedule, and we are hoping it all goes well because this is an important drill in our overall energy plans” (https://ahvalnews.com/exxon/exxon-drillship-arrives-block-10-cyprus-cyprus-mail).

Regarding Cyprus’ plans to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) for electricity generation until its own reserves come on tap, the Minister said that a call for tenders has been issued for the infrastructures.

Also, he stated that the project is being co-funded by the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility towards the amount of EUR 100 million and that second separate tender would follow, inviting bids for the supply of the fuel itself.

The minister also briefed lawmakers on the other planned drills in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), including in block 7, as well as on the situation concerning the development of the Aphrodite reservoir in block 12.

It should also be noted that Stena IceMax arrives amid repeated objections from Turkey, in relation to Cypriot plans to exploit potential offshore gas reserves in the Mediterranean, as Turkish warships in February 2018 twice blocked the course of an exploration vessel leased by Italian energy firm Eni off Cyprus (https://ahvalnews.com/exxon/exxon-drillship-arrives-block-10-cyprus-cyprus-mail).

The exploration drilling in Block 10 is very important for Cyprus’ energy sector, reflected by the fact that if the results are positive and a significant amount of commercialized hydrocarbons is discovered, it would open the way for the creation of an onshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant (https://www.forbes.com/sites/antonisantoniou/2018/11/10/exxonmobil-could-be-in-for-a-naval-battle/#fac942c4b8e2).