Italy's ENI energy company plans to drill for natural gas by the end of this year in Cyprus's continental shelf, hoping for a considerable discovery, a company official said on Tuesday.
ENI chief exploration officer Luca Bertelli told reporters during a gas conference here that the company is optimistic that it can discover a gas field the size of the Egyptian Zohr find, which contains an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of gas.
"We believe that out there lays a giant gas field. There is a big chance that this is within Cyprus' exclusive economic zone and we are confident that we may make some other discoveries similar to Zohr," Bertelli said.
ENI plans to drill in block 11 of Cyprus's exclusive economic zone which lies next to Egypt's Zohr gas field.
The Cypriot government has approved an application by French Total energy company to assign 50 percent of its interest in block 11 to ENI.
Interest for natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean region, known as the Levantine basin, was revived after the Zohr field was discovered two years ago in carbonate layers.
Drilling before the Zohr find was made only in limestone layers, as it was believed that hydrocarbons could only be found in this geological formations.
Bertelli said gas in block 11 and the Egyptian field is believed to flow from an undersea mountain formation named after Greek mathematician Eratosthenis, the man who theorized that the earth was round and accurately estimated its circumference at 40,000 km, almost 2,500 years ago.
Eratosthenis transverses both the Cypriot and Egyptian continental shelf.
The Cypriot government is expected to shortly finalize agreements for gas exploration in three more blocks of its exclusive economic zone with ENI in association with Total in block six, ENI in block eight and United States-based ExxonMobil in association with Qatar Petroleum, a leader in the gas market.