Italian energy firm ENI is planning two exploratory drills for natural gas in the island’s exclusive economic zone in the next couple of months, officials said on Friday.
The announcement was made by Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis and ENI CEO Claudio Descalzi after a meeting with the president.
The first drill will take place in a field in block six named Kalypso in December, followed by a one in Cuttlefish, in block three in January.
“We have agreed on the drilling only nine months after licensing and this is record time,” Descalzi said.
Asked if he was optimistic, the CEO said his company was investing €150m and that meant it believed in the prospect and the geology of Cyprus.
“We are optimistic, we are present, and we are investing a lot,” he said.
The announcement is certain to irk Turkey, which considers block six part of its continental shelf.
In a letter to the UN in April, Turkey said it will not allow foreign companies to conduct unauthorised hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activity on its continental shelf.
Ankara’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Feridun Sinirlioglu, expressed Turkey’s “grave concern regarding the provocative act by the Greek Cypriot Administration” – as it calls the Republic of Cyprus – to grant a licence for block 6 of its exclusive economic zone, which “partially falls within the outer limits of Turkey’s continental shelf in the eastern Mediterranean”.
“Turkey is committed to protecting its sovereign rights emanating from international law and will not allow foreign companies to conduct unauthorised hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activities on its continental shelf, as it was strongly underlined in several statements on the issue by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, most recently on 6 April 2017,” the letter said.
Asked whether the meeting discussed the Turkish provocations, Lakkotrypis said “as the government, we decided to grant the block to a strong conglomerate made up of ENI and Total and we did so because we were ready to go ahead with drilling, a conviction also expressed by the company today.