Israel’s NewMed Energy and partners begin drilling at Aphrodite gas field off Cyprus

Energy companies with stake in field, including Chevron and Shell, look to appraise well to confirm estimates on size and scope of the gas deposit

Sharon Wrobel is a tech reporter for The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: Stena drilling ship. (NewMed Energy)
Illustrative: Stena drilling ship. (NewMed Energy)

Partners in the Aphrodite natural gas field, which include Israel’s NewMed Energy, announced on Sunday that they have started drilling an appraisal well at the field offshore Cyprus.

Israel’s NewMed Energy, formerly Delek Drilling (part of Yitzhak Tshuva’s Delek Group), which owns a 30% stake in the Aphrodite field said drilling the appraisal well is expected to take about three months. Other partners in the Aphrodite gas field, which holds an estimated 124 billion cubic meters of gas, are US energy giant Chevron and Shell, who each own a 35% share.

Discovered in 2011, the Aphrodite natural gas field is located about 170 kilometers (some 105 miles) south of Limassol in Cyprus and 30 kilometers (some 18 miles) northwest of Israel’s Leviathan gas reservoir, one of the world’s largest deep-water gas discoveries. Earlier this year, partners in the Leviathan field — NewMed Energy, Chevron and Ratio Oil Corp — announced plans to to boost annual gas production and exports in 2025 to meet growing demand. Currently, a maximum capacity of up to 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, or 12 billion cubic meters per year, is piped up from the Leviathan reservoir for the supply and sale of gas to Israel, Egypt, and Jordan.

Both Israel and Egypt have emerged as gas exporters in recent years, following major offshore discoveries, as Europe is determined to wean itself off dependence on Russian gas imports. In June, Israel and Egypt signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Union that will see Israel export its natural gas to the bloc for the first time. According to the agreement, Israeli gas could be supplied via Egypt’s LNG plants to the EU.

“Alongside advancing phase two of the Leviathan reservoir, which satisfies the needs of the local and regional economy, we are making progress and significantly advancing the development of the Aphrodite reservoir,” said NewMed Energy CEO Yossi Abu. “Global demand for natural gas is increasing, and a large reservoir like Aphrodite could help meet the demand.”

NewMed Energy said that that the appraisal well is drilled to confirm assessments regarding the nature and size of the Aphrodite gas deposit, currently estimated at 4.4 trillion cubic feet and marks a “significant step” towards its development. The well is expected to serve as a production well following the completion of the development of the reservoir.

The appraisal well is part of a work plan for the development of the Aphrodite reservoir. In September, the partners in the gas field approved a budget of about $192 million for the implementation of the drilling and for the performance of pre-feed engineering work needed for the development of the gas field.

Total cost of the development plan, including the cost of installation of the pipelines to target markets, is estimated at about $3.6 billion.

The partners are seeking to supply natural gas from the Aphrodite field to the domestic market in Cyprus, and to export natural gas by pipeline to other markets, including the Egyptian market, and the global LNG market. The supply of natural gas from the Aphrodite reservoir is expected in 2027 at the earliest, according to NewMed Energy.

Back in November 2019, the government of Cyprus granted the partners in the Aphrodite gas field located in Block 12 inside the country’s offshore exclusive economic zone a production license for 25 years, with an option to extend the term by another 10 years.

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