Noble Energy encounters snags in drilling offshore Cyprus

Noble Energy Inc. has reportedly encountered difficulties with water pockets and gas seepage in its drilling of its Cyprus A prospect offshore Cyprus.

The problems and potential risks could delay by a month the drilling of the first stage of Noble’s Aphrodite well, according to a report by Israel’s Globes business daily.

The paper said Noble encountered a problem in Cypriot waters that is already well known from its drilling offshore Israel: pockets of water that could penetrate the shaft.

The Houston firm faced similar problems when drilling on Israel’s Leviathan-2 well was brought to a halt by water seepage into the drilling shaft due to faulty walling of the shaft (OGJ Online, Apr. 1, 2011).

The problems mean that the Homer Ferrington rig will be unable to complete Noble’s Noa gas field or drill the firm’s Myra and Sarah licenses offshore Israel. The Cypriot drilling had been scheduled for completion in 90-120 days.

Analyst Catherine Hunter of IHS Global Insight said a longer drilling timeline will also have “some consequences” in terms of prolonging current tensions in the region around border delineation.

“An increased Turkish-Israeli military presence has been the consequence of this to date, alongside Northern Cypriot border delineation and seismic work, all of which raise the risks of outright—albeit likely contained—clashes as activities continue,” Hunter said.

According to preliminary reports by Noble Energy, Block 12 holds about 10 tcf, slightly more than its Tamar discovery at 9.25 tcf but smaller than the Leviathan discovery at 16 tcf.

Meanwhile, based on indications so far, Cyprus’s Commerce Minister Praxoulla Antoniadou said preparations are under way for a second licensing round, with plans set to be finalized by yearend.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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