December 28, 2017

Saipem drillship arrives for exploration in block 6

THE Saipem 12000 deepwater drillship has arrived at the target in block 6 where later this week it is scheduled to commence drilling an exploratory gas well.

Energy minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis tweeted on Wednesday: “Saipem 12K, welcome to #Cyprus #EEZ. Calypso awaits… Best of success @ENI and @TOTAL.”

The drillship has been leased by the consortium of ENI and Total which have the licence for block 6.

It arrived at the target site, dubbed ‘Calypso’, around 11pm on Tuesday, slightly ahead of schedule. Reports said that during its final stretch, the vessel approached block 6 from the south, heading northward into Cypriot waters from Egypt’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The final approach route may have been a tactical manoeuvre to avoid complications with the Turkish navy patrolling the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey, which does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus, claims that block 6 partially falls within the outer limits of its continental shelf in the eastern Mediterranean.

According to daily Phileleftheros, after the Saipem 12000 had entered the Republic’s Search and Rescue (SAR) Area of Responsibility, a Turkish warship was spotted at a considerable distance. The Turkish vessel made no contact or attempt to intercept the drillship.

The operations in block 6 are expected to wrap up by early February 2018, after which the drillship will almost immediately head to block 3 – also licensed to ENI – for another exploratory drill. The target in block 3 is codenamed ‘Soupia’ (cuttlefish).

Also on Tuesday, the Turkish research vessel Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa set a course for the Cypriot EEZ.

The Marine Traffic website does not report a precise destination for the Barbaros.

Meanwhile, a drillship leased by Turkey was on Wednesday making its way through the Mediterranean.

At the time of writing, the DeepSea Metro II was just clearing the southern coast of Sicily. The vessel’s destination is Istanbul, with an estimated time of arrival there of December 31.

Turkish government officials have repeatedly made noises about plans to drill for gas in the eastern Mediterranean – without specifying where.

ENI have previously carried out two unsuccessful drills in their block 9 Cyprus concession, in late 2014 and early 2015.

In the summer of 2017, an exploratory well drilled in block 11 (ENI and Total) came up with approximately half a trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas, deemed not commercially viable.

To date, the Aphrodite field in block 12 is the only commercially exploitable play with an estimated 4.5 tcf of natural gas.

In the summer of 2018, the consortium comprising ExxonMobil and Qatar will be drilling two exploratory wells in their block 10 license.


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