This figure was based on what a government spokesman said was “a moderate estimate” by Noble Energy, a U.S. company that has just completed an exploratory drilling 165 km south of Cyprus.
The mean average of the gas deposits could be 7 trillion cubic feet, enough to cover Cyprus’s needs for almost 200 years, Christofias said at a televised press conference.
He said the gas deposit was 100 meters thick and covered an area of 103 square km at a depth of 5,861 meters.
Plans for exploiting the gas involve building a 185-km pipe jointly with Israel to convey both Cypriot and Israeli gas to the south shore of the eastern Mediterranean island and setting up a liquidation plant at an estimated cost of 10 billion euros (13 billion U.S. dollars).
Liquefied gas would eventually be sent to countries of the European Union (EU) which are keen on securing alternate sources of energy.
Christofias called the finding a “historic development” which would create conditions of prosperity for Cyprus and its entire population.
Gas exploration had been undertaken despite strong opposition by Turkey, which claimed that it violated the rights of Turkish Cypriots.
However, both the EU and the United States came out strongly in support of Cyprus and its rights to act within the scope of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The president also announced that following the confirmation of the gas deposit, energy companies would soon be invited to a second round of bidding for the lease of hydrocarbons exploratory drilling rights in its Exclusive Economic Zone.