NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Drilling by ExxonMobil set for late next month to confirm how much natural gas is contained in a sizable deposit off Cyprus’ southwestern coast will map out how the fuel will reach potential markets in Europe and Asia, the island nation’s energy minister said on Wednesday.

Minister Natasa Pilides says the “significant” drilling at the ‘Glaucus-1’ well inside block 10 of Cyprus’ exclusive zone scheduled to start in 6-8 weeks will determine if the deposit is at the higher or lower end of its estimated size of 5-8 trillion cubic feet (142-227 billion cubic meters) of natural gas.

A higher confirmed quantity would naturally mean greater profits and in turn push exploitation of the deposit up the priority list for ExxonMobil and partner Qatar Petroleum among the different projects they’re currently working on.

Pilides told The Associated Press in an interview that transferring the gas by pipeline to Egyptian processing plants where it would be liquefied for export aboard ships is currently the “most likely option.”

But possible construction of a processing plant on Cyprus isn’t completely out of the picture depending on the overall quantity of gas found off the island that would make the project economically feasible.

A consortium made up of France’s Total and Italy’s Eni is set to start drilling in the first half of next year to determine the size of what was described as a “promising” deposit at its “Calypso 1” well in block…

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