Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which followed the breakout of the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a devastating energy crisis across Europe, driving fuel prices and inflation to unprecedented highs. But on Monday, it was announced energy companies TotalEnergies and ENI made a significant gas discovery offshore Cyprus.
The Cronos-1 well encountered several good quality carbonate reservoir intervals and confirmed overall net gas pay of more than 260 meters, TotalEnergies said in a statement.
The quantity of gas is estimated to be around 2.5 trillion cubic feet, according to Eni.
The company added that a further exploration well will be created in the area in order to investigate the potential for “significant” additional upside.
Kevin McLachlan, Senior Vice President, Exploration at TotalEnergies said: “This successful exploration well at Cronos-1 is another illustration of the impact of our Exploration strategy which is focused on discovering resources with low technical cost and low carbon emissions, to contribute to energy security including to provide additional sources of gas supply to Europe.”
While Eni said in a statement that the gas discovery “can unlock additional potential in the area and is part of Eni’s successful effort to provide further gas supply to Europe”, bringing hope the energy crisis could be eased.
However, reporting on the discovery in an article titled “New discoveries confirm that a huge gas bonanza lies in the sea off Cyprus. Can it help solve Europe’s gas shortage?”, the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, wrote “it will probably be years before gas from Cyprus, should it be produced, reaches European consumers”.
The newspaper quoted Moritz Rau, energy expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, claiming that Cypriot gas will not be available in the short term, and exporting it to international markets would probably fuel conflicts with Turkey.
Notably, the expert concluded that “the obstacles outweigh the benefits” since the infrastructure for a business model is still missing.
And investors to enable that model are “difficult to find as long as EU demand is not secured in the long term and it is not foreseeable that the project will be profitable”, according to Rau.
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But further to the financial obstacles, Rau also cites serious political obstacles to the exploitation of Cyprus’ gas fields in addition to economic ones.
The island has been divided since 1974, after Turkey occupied the northern part in response to a Greek-inspired coup – and continues to occupy it to this day.
The conflict and Turkey’s quest for supremacy in the region are likely to pose strong barriers before Cypriot gas is traded internationally, the expert claimed, adding that Turkish Cypriots will have to share in the profits.
Ankara has repeatedly made it clear by pushing away research ships and unlawful explorations “that an international marketing of Cypriot gas reserves can only be implemented with Turkish consent”, says Rau.
Additional reporting Monika Pallenberg