Cyprus for the first time has flared off gas from a massive new field drilled by Noble Energy as part of a process to evaluate the find, Cyprus’ minister of energy said Thursday night.
“Yesterday was a historic moment,” Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said as he smiled at a crowd of Greek and Cypriot supporters at a New York City meeting of officials discussing the island nation's role in the euro zone. “This is the first Cypriot gas on the surface and we are very proud,” he said.
Houston-based Noble Energy flared off gas in the Aphrodite field offshore Cyprus and said it will provide further production data in October.
Cyprus could use some good news, as its economy has been suffering from rampant unemployment and electicity prices that are among the highest in Europe.
The nation's aspirations are driven by recent discoveries in the Levant Basin, a stretch of sea that extends from the coasts of Israel, Lebanon and Syria and is estimated to contain 122 trillion cubic feet of gas. Just 1 trillion cubic feet would be enough to meet Cyprus' energy needs for 25 years.
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The news of the Noble Energy test comes as Lakkotrypis was in Washington earlier this week for high-level meetings with lawmakers, State Department officials and congressional staffers on Cyprus’ new role as a regional energy hub.
As the EU's southernmost member, Cyprus is seen as an important player in diversifying Europe’s energy mix and lessening its reliance on Russian and Middle Eastern suppliers. Furthermore, discussions about likely construction of plants to convert the LNG back into gas in countries like Croatia, Bulgaria and Greece may indicate those nations are potential customers for Cyprus and Israel.
“For those who would not believe that we have gas, certainly what is burning here is not water,” Lakkotrypis said.