Cyprus: China's State Energy Firm Interested in Gas Prospecting


Cyprus Interior Minister Neoklis Silikiotis said on Sunday that Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) is one of several major foreign energy companies which have expressed interest in acquiring a license to explore for natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean island's continental shelf.

Cyprus launched a second licensing round for 12 blocks in its offshore Exclusive Economic Zone, excluding a block in which US-based Noble Energy tapped a sizeable gas reserve last year.

Silikiotis did not directly answer a question on a press report that CNOOK submitted a proposal to buy off exploration and exploitation rights in block 12, in which Noble Energy is currently operating.

"There is an interest by many companies, among them CNOOC to acquire a license for hydrocarbon exploration, the state energy company of China which is dealing in natural gas and oil, as there is also an interest by many other companies which came to Cyprus," Silikiotis said.

Noble Energy said that on the basis of initial moderate estimates, a natural gas reserve discovered in an exploratory drill in block 12, some 65 kilometers off the south Cyprus coast contains 5 to 8 trillion cubic feet, with a gross mean of 7 trillion cubic feet.

Noble Energy is acting in association with an Israeli state energy company and has discovered a huge quantity of natural gas in two Israeli offshore blocks amounting to 24 trillion cubic feet.

Silikiotis, a member of an ad hoc ministerial committee handling energy issues, also said that among the Cyprus government's top priorities is the establishment of a state energy company to develop hydrocarbon reserves.

Cyprus and Israel are currently considering a plan for joint development of their respective natural gas reserves that includes building a gas pipe to the south Cyprus shores.

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