EMGC '13: Gas gurus discuss resource potential of Eastern Mediterranean

By Adrienne Blume
Managing Editor

NICOSIA, Cyprus -- Gulf Publishing Company’s inaugural Eastern Mediterranean Gas Conference (EMGC) continued on Tuesday with Day 1 of technical presentations.

The conference, which is taking place from April 8–10 at the Hilton Cyprus, features speakers from top companies operating in the region. These companies include Noble Energy Inc., the largest operator in the region; as well as Hyperion Systems Engineering Group, Cyprus National Hydrocarbons Co., Total E&P Research and Technology USA LLC and others.

EMGC media sponsors and partners include Deloitte Ltd., GS Oil & Gas, KBR Inc., ABS, ConocoPhillips, Technip, DNV, Radius Oceanic Communications Inc., Cyprus Telecommunications Authority, European Rim Policy and Investment Council (ERPIC) and others.

Tuesday highlights.
During EMGC’s Tuesday technical program, executives from operating, service and technology companies active in the region shared insight into development opportunities for this exciting resource area. Speakers focused on the regional implications and potential of the new energy resources. Delegates from the Israeli and Cypriot governments, along with industry executives, examined offshore oil and gas opportunities and challenges for Cyprus, Israel and the EU as a whole. Market potential, international impacts and LNG pricing were also discussed.

The LNG question.
Several speakers expressed the need for up to three LNG export trains, with a total capacity of 15 million tons per year, to deliver Eastern Med gas to other European nations. However, Cyprus’ Deputy Director of Energy Services for the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Constantinos Xichilos, noted that early investments in liquefaction capacity that will not be used immediately are not feasible.

Noble Energy Inc. and partner Woodside Petroleum Ltd. are presently studying a possible LNG terminal site at Vasilikos in Cyprus, which could host multiple trains when sufficient gas reserves have been proven to warrant the expansion, Mr. Xichilos said.

Meanwhile, Israel’s former Minister of Energy and National Infrastructure for the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, Joseph Paritzky, noted that relations with Turkey should be mended, as the latter country is in need of a nearby supply of gas. Regional governments “need to decide where the energy corridor will be” and which countries it will involve, Mr. Paritzky asserted.

Noble Energy’s take.
Noble Energy Chairman and CEO Chuck Davidson spoke at length during Tuesday morning’s session, “The Impact of the New Energy Resource,” about the discoveries his company has made in the region so far, and the implications these resources have for the Eastern Med’s energy future.

“The region is evolving into a major energy player in the world, not only for countries in the region, but also for the countries they will be working with,” said Mr. Davidson (pictured right). The CEO discussed Noble Energy’s roots in the Eastern Med, highlighting the discovery of the Mari-B field in 2000. Mari-B enabled the export of gas to Israel for power generation, transforming many coal-powered plants into cleaner, natural gas-fueled facilities.

Several smaller fields were brought online after Mari-B, and then the massive Leviathan and Tamar fields were discovered in the late 2000s and early 2010s, bringing Noble Energy’s total natural gas resource estimate for the area to 35 trillion cubic feet. Mr. Davidson noted that a third block is being drilled in Cyprus, and a seventh prospect is being developed in Israel, with the latter having an 85% chance of success.

The massive gas resources available in the Mediterranean will provide enough clean, low-cost energy to displace all of the fuel used by automobiles in Israel for 14 years, Mr. Davidson noted. Additionally, the development of the Tamar field will add 1% to Israel’s GDP in 2013 alone. Mr. Davidson concluded his speech by asserting, “We have to work cooperatively with all of our partners, especially [the regional] governments,” to make the projects work.

The Israeli perspective.
During the late morning session on “Resource Potential,” AJM Deloitte Partner for Energy and Resource Advisory Services, Robin Mann, noted that Israel could be self-sufficient in gas by 2016. Gas from the Tamar and Leviathan fields will supply power for the country’s electricity needs, and excess gas from these fields, as well as gas from blocks presently being developed offshore Cyprus, could be sent as LNG to Asia or Europe.

Alternatively, the gas could be piped through an undersea pipeline through Cyprus or Turkey and then onto Europe. Another option would be to set up a floating LNG (FLNG) facility to process and transport the gas from Tamar and Leviathan.

Emerging markets for the Eastern Med.
The Tuesday afternoon session featured presentations on the market for the new resources, with executives from DNV, KBR Inc., and GE Oil and Gas Turbomachinery offering perspectives on natural gas mega-projects, including the feasibility and reliability of proposed LNG and FLNG projects. Adi Karev, Global Head of Oil and Gas for Deloitte Worldwide, also discussed the end of oil index pricing and the future of LNG pricing around the world.

International impacts.
Concluding the afternoon technical session was a panel discussion on the impact of the new energy resource. Panelist Rony Halman (pictured right), founder and Chairman of Israel Opportunity Oil & Gas Co./C.O. Cyprus Opportunity Energy Public Co. Ltd., noted that oil discoveries in the region could prove just as important as the new gas finds.

Meanwhile, panelist Wafik Beydoun, President and CEO of Total E&P Research and Technology USA LLC, discussed the benefits of seismic technologies for exploring oil and gas plays in the Eastern Med, as well as where such technologies can be used with a high success rate. Technip’s Senior Vice President of Gas Monetization, Philip Hagyard, also discussed the LNG potential for the Eastern Med’s gas resources.

Tuesday evening gala.
The day concluded with a delicious and heavily-attended gala dinner at the Hilton Cyprus sponsored by Deloitte Ltd. The dinner featured a keynote speech by Noble Energy’s Chuck Davidson, who noted that the Eastern Med gas resources would soon be moving to the export stage, which would inevitably involve energy exchange with Middle Eastern nations.

The work being done in the Eastern Med by Noble Energy and its partners “is about developing energy and resources, but it’s also about creating jobs,” Mr. Davidson said. Noble Energy expects to sanction as many as five major projects in 2013 alone, with two located in the core regions of the Deepwater Gulf of Mexico and two that would “hopefully be located in Israel,” according to Mr. Davidson. However, the Noble CEO noted that Israeli export policies would largely determine the pace at which the Leviathan and Tamar fields are developed.

As for Cyprus, the country needs an offshore host to process gas, Mr. Davidson said. The plan is to liquefy gas for export to international markets, hopefully at the potential site at Vasilikos. “We need support from partners,” Mr. Davidson emphasized. “These aren’t only multi-billion-dollar projects; they’re multi-decade projects.” For such projects to be successful, the CEO said, stable tax environment and investment climates are needed, along with a streamlined infrastructure process.

“It takes a lot of faith and confidence and perseverance, and it’s not something that happens overnight,” Mr. Davidson said. Developing these projects “requires a lot of support from partners to make this happen.”

After thanking Gulf Publishing Company for organizing EMGC, Mr. Davidson concluded his speech by saying, “Our goal is to build on what we’ve done already, and we hope we can look back a few years from now and say that we created a forum for discussion [with this conference] for what is happening in this region.”

More from EMGC. Stay tuned this week for additional coverage of Gulf Publishing Company’s inaugural Eastern Mediterranean
Gas Conference in Cyprus.

Photo caption 1: Noble Energy Chairman and CEO Chuck Davidson addresses attendees at Tuesday evening’s Deloitte-sponsored gala dinner.

Photo caption 2: Rony Halman of Israel Opportunity Oil & Gas speaks about the importance of oil resources to the Eastern Med during a Tuesday afternoon panel discussion.

The Author

Related News

From the Archive