Cyprus goes ahead with its energy plans despite Turkish threats

Cyprus is going ahead with its energy plans in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as drilling in field 6 is expected to begin in the next few days despite Turkey’s provocative actions and public statements.

According to CAN, Government Spokesman Nikos Christodoulides said that Turkey’s intention is to put Cyprus’ sovereign rights into question, while it is expected to intensify its reactions as the implementation of Cypriot energy plans is underway, especially after the recent arrival of drillship Saipem 12000.

Christodoulides characterized the presence of two energy giants, namely the Italian ENI and the French TOTAL, as a clear political and economic vote of confidence. He also added that Cyprus government has no intention of engaging in a communications game of public confrontation with Turkey because that would only serve Ankara’s aim.

Instead, as the spokesman said, Cyprus will proceed with its energy plans through concrete actions on political, diplomatic and other levels in partnership with the energy giants operating in the island’s EEZ.

Cyprus Minister of Energy, Yiorgos Lakkotrypis welcomed Saipem 12000 in Cyprus EEZ and wished ENI and TOTAL the best of success in their endeavours through his twitter account, while on Thursday he said that he is prepared for all outcomes of the oil and gas exploratory program, as the scenarios range from making no new discovery to making discoveries in all drillings.

However, the minister remains optimistic despite the fact that ENI and TOTAL’s drilling in block 11 in September discovered less than 1 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas.

In an interview on state radio, Mr Lakkotrypis talked about the drilling plans as well as the challenges facing the exploration and development of Cyprus’ hydrocarbon resources from a technical, financial and geopolitical aspect, adding that the Cyprus problem is making the situation quite complicated.

Drilling by ENI and TOTAL at Calypso, the target in block 6 of the EEZ, is most likely to start on Sunday or Monday, January 1 at the latest. From a technical perspective, the drilling is going to be difficult taking into account that the water depth at the spot is 3,500 metres, while the drill will have to go another 3,500 metres below the sea bed.

After Calypso, there will be one more drilling by ENI at the Cuttlefish target in block 3, while two more drillings in block 10 will be carried out by the ExxonMobil consortium in the second half of 2018.

The minister also referred to the discovery of 4.5tcf of natural gas in the Aphrodite field in block 11 in its EEZ by Noble Energy in 2011. He said that the deposit is still unexploited and the investment required amounts to €3 billion. Cyprus is presently negotiating the sale of Aphrodite’s future production to Egypt’s liquefaction plants.

Meanwhile, Turkey persists in opposing Cyprus’ hydrocarbon program by disputing the island’s EEZ and claiming that block 6 lies partially within its continental shelf. Apart from Ankara’s common practice of sending military aircraft and warships into the area during Cyprus’ drillings, Turkey recently issued a NAVTEX warning covering the entire EEZ, including the drilling spot.

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