The speed at which Cyprus makes its next moves in the wake of Thursday’s announcement by ExxonMobil that a large gas deposit was discovered in Block 10 of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is seen as a determining factor in the island’s energy development and future drillings there by the US energy giant.
So far, this sense of political expediency appears not to be lost on Cyprus, with its Parliament convening immediately after the find’s announcement and voting through legislation for the creation of a National Hydrocarbons Fund.
An amendment was added to the law that disconnects the fund from Cyprus’s public debt. The significance of the new legislation was highlighted by Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, who congratulated the island’s Parliament on “its decision to set up a National Hydrocarbons Fund.” The fund, he said ensures investments for future generations and secures the rights of “our Turkish-Cypriot fellow countrymen.” The initiative also seeks to counter anticipated accusations from Ankara that Nicosia is acting unilaterally without due consideration for Turkish Cypriots.
Ankara is opposed to Cyprus’s development of its offshore natural reserves, saying that part of the island’s EEZ lies within Turkey’s continental shelf and that Turkish Cypriots have not been consulted.
Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci reiterated that Turkey and the unrecognized entity he leads in northern Cyprus cannot be left out of the energy game playing out in the Eastern Mediterranean – in reference to the alliances Nicosia has set up with neighboring countries in the region.
Ankara’s opposition to Cyprus’s energy plans is reflected by the presence of the Turkish research vessel Barbaros off the southern coast of the island and within its EEZ. Meanwhile, initial estimates in Cyprus media with regard to the value of the gas reserve in the Glaucus-1 well in Block 10 is between 30 and 40 billion US dollars.
Moreover, according to reports, the size of the reserve could cover Cyprus’s power needs for the next 200 years.