Oil and Gas Timeline

  1. 2003

    Cyprus demarcates its maritime border with Egypt.

  2. 2004

    Cyprus adopts a new law limiting its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by 12 nautical miles. The EEZ is to be delimited via bilateral agreements with Israel, Lebanon and Egypt.

  3. 2007

    Cyprus demarcates its maritime border with Lebanon.

  4. 2007

    Cyprus announces the first offshore licensing round in 11 exploration blocks within the EEZ of the Republic. Blocks 3 and 13 are excluded.

  5. October 2008

    Texas-based Noble Energy is granted an exploration licence for Block 12 for an initial period of three years.

  6. November 2008

    Turkish naval vessels harass Cyprus-contracted vessels conducting seismic exploration for hydrocarbon deposits in waters south of the island.

  7. 2010

    Cyprus and Israel demarcate their respective maritime borders.

  8. December 2010

    Noble Energy announces the discovery of the Leviathan gas field in Israeli waters. It is the largest gas reservoir (between 18 trillion cubic feet to 22 trillion cubic feet) in the Mediterranean Sea until the August 2015 discovery of the Zohr gas field off the coast of Egypt.

  9. September 19, 2011

    Noble Energy commences exploratory drilling in Block 12 without any incidents being reported. Cyprus’ drilling efforts have the support of the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

  10. September 21, 2011

    Turkey, which does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus, signs a ‘continental shelf delineation agreement’ with northern Cyprus. Maps published in Turkey’s official gazette show that oil drilling permits issued to the Turkish National Oil and Gas Company (TPAO) stretch as far as the Greek island of Rhodes as well as blocks 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 as delineated in the Cyprus Republic’s EEZ, south and south-west of the island. Turkey also supports northern Cyprus’ claims in the Republic’s blocks 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 12, and 13, including within few kilometres from the Aphrodite gas field in Block 12.

  11. September 22, 2011

    Turkish Cypriot authorities grant an exploration licence to the TPAO to explore for oil and natural gas around the island.

  12. September 28, 2011

    the Turkish seismographic vessel Piri Reis and two Turkish warships come into close range of Noble Energy’s platform south of Cyprus, and on some occassions encroach into Block 12. Two Turkish F16 jets are spotted flying over the area. The activity is monitored by US, British, Russian and Greek warships.

  13. December 28, 2011

    Noble Energy announces discovery of the Aphrodite gas field in Block 12. The reservoir lies 30 km northwest of Israel’s Leviathan field.

  14. February 2012

    Cyprus announces the second offshore licensing round, for blocks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 13.

  15. January 24, 2013

    The government signs contracts granting licences for the exploration of blocks 2, 3 and 9 to the ENI- Kogas consortium. The reported signature bonuses arising from the signing of these contracts amount to €150m.

  16. February 6, 2013

    The government signs contracts granting licences for the exploration of blocks 10 and 11 to French multinational Total, resulting in a signature bonus of €24m.

  17. February 11, 2013

    The government signs agreements for the transfer of 30 per cent of Noble Energy’s exploration rights in Block 12, to Israeli companies Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration.

  18. June 2013

    Noble Energy commences appraisal drilling work in Block 12.

  19. October 3, 2013

    Noble Energy announces results of the appraisal drilling. Revised estimates for the Aphrodite field are gross mean reserves of 5 trillion cubic feet.

  20. December 17, 2013

    Noble Energy discloses that some 3 billion barrels of oil may lie in deepwater strata between Cypriot and Israeli offshore fields.

  21. September 25, 2014

    ENI commences drilling operations at the Onasagoras well in its Block 9 concession.

  22. October 2014

    Turkey despatches the research vessel Barbaros and warships into Cyprus’ EEZ. The move prompts President Nicos Anastasiades to pull out of peace talks with Turkish Cypriots.

  23. November 2014

    At an energy conference in Nicosia, Noble Energy announces that it is shelving plans for a land-based Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility. The Houston-based outfit states that regional pipelines are its top priority at this stage.

  24. December 2014

    ENI announces it has not found sufficient commercially exploitable natural gas at the Onasagoras well.

  25. January 2015

    ENI commences exploratory drilling at the Amathusa well in Block 9.

  26. January 2015

    Turkey issues a new marine advisory, despatching the Barbaros, and again reserving areas for exploration in the eastern Mediterranean – including parts of Cyprus’ maritime zone – from January 6 to April 6.

  27. February 2015

    Total relinquishes Block 10 without drilling any wells. The company is released from its original two-well drilling commitment – across two adjacent blocks, 10 and 11, lying on the maritime border with Egypt – on the condition that it continues to evaluate 3D seismic data in Block 11 in an attempt to locate a possible target. Total’s exploration licence in Block 11 is due to expire in February 2016.

  28. March 2015

    The government announces that ENI has not found commercially exploitable gas reserves at the Amathusa well. With UN mediation, Turkey agrees not to renew its marine advisory, which was set to expire on April 6, and to withdraw the Barbaros from Cypriot waters. In turn, the fact that Cyprus itself will not be conducting offshore drilling for several months opens a window for the resumption of reunification talks.

  29. April 2015

    ‘presidential elections’ held in the north. Moderate Mustafa Akinci is elected ‘president’.

  30. May 15, 2015

    After a seven-month break, peace talks resume between President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.

  31. June 7, 2015

    The Block 12 partners, Noble Energy, Delek and Avner, declare the Aphrodite gas field commercial.

  32. June 10, 2015:

    The Block 12 partners submit to the government the Development and Production Plan for Aphrodite.

  33. August 2015

    ENI announces discovery of the Zohr gas field in Egyptian waters. The largest to-date gas field in the Mediterranean Sea, Zohr holds an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of lean gas in place. It lies six kilometres from Cyprus’ Block 11 and 90 kilometres from the Aphrodite gas find in Block 12. The massive Egyptian discovery, and its proximity to licensed Cypriot acreages, rekindles interest from both ENI and Total in their respective Cypriot concessions.

  34. December 28, 2015

    The cabinet approves a request by the ENI-Kogas consortium to extend its exploration activities by two more years. Concessions were renewed for offshore blocks 2, 3 and 9. The consortium’s concession was due to expire in February 2016, now extended to February 2018.

  35. December 2015

    The cabinet approves the renewal of Total’s exploration concession on Block 11 for a period of two years, to February 2018.

  36. January 2016

    The energy ministry announces that BG Cyprus, subsidiary of British multinational oil and gas company BG Group, has joined the Block 12 consortium with a 35 per cent stake.

  37. February 2016

    Ignoring government pleas, Larnaca’s municipal council votes against extending the permit for the operation of MedServ, the company providing oil support services to the energy companies. Medserv’s permit at the port of Larnaca was set to expire in August of 2016. Total reluctantly agrees to shift its onshore support base to the port of Limassol.

  38. February 2016

    Cyprus announces the third offshore licensing round, putting up for auction blocks 6, 8 and 10. The bids subsequently submitted are: Block 6: ENI/Total Block 8: Capricorn Oil/Delek Drilling, ENI Block 10: ENI/Total, Exxon Mobil/Qatar Petroleum, Statoil

  39. August 2, 2016:

    Turkey’s foreign affairs ministry warns energy companies expressing interest in Block 6 in the third licensing round that any exploratory activity is unauthorised as part of the acreage lies within what it claims is Turkey’s continental shelf.

  40. October 2016

    Total and EDT offshore, an oil and gas services company, sign a contract where the latter is to provide the former onshore logistics services out of the port of Limassol supporting Total’s drilling programme. At the signing ceremony, Total announce they are poised to drill their first exploratory well in Block 11 in April 2017.

  41. October 2016

    Complications arise arise relating to the since-privatised concession services at the port of Limassol. Concession holders G.A.P. Vassilopoulos Group and DP World say they have a monopoly over the concession, and that the arrangement between Total and EDT is null and void as it violates their own agreement with the government to operate the port.

  42. December 21, 2016

    The government announces the preferred bidders with whom it will begin negotiations with a view to awarding concessions in the third licensing round. The preferred bidders are: the consortium of ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum for Block 10; the consortium of ENI and Total for Block 6; and ENI for Block 8. According to energy minister, Giorgos Lakkotrypis, decisions to award concessions are expected in late January or February 2017.

  43. December 23, 2016

    Sources tell the Cyprus Mail that the path is clear for energy giant Total to use the facilities at the port of Limassol, following a deal struck between EDT, the outfit providing Total with onshore logistical support, and the port concessionaires.

  44. December 30, 2016

    Reports indicate that the Cyprus Hydrocarbons Company (CHC) may remain without expert legal advice for the foreseeable future, possibly impeding its ability to negotiate major energy-related projects. The complication is due to an appeal launched against the CHC’s decision awarding a contract to procure legal services.

  45. January 2017

    The EastMed pipeline is commercially viable and technically feasible, states a study presented in Brussels to the EU Directorate-General for Energy and the director generals of the Ministries of Energy of Cyprus, Greece, Israel and Italy. According to the study conducted by Edison, the estimated cost of EastMed is $6 billion. The project is being implemented by IGI Poseidon S.A., a 50-50 per cent joint venture between DEPA S.A. and Edison S.p.A., incorporated under Greek law and based in Athens.

  46. March 2017

    The government announces its decision to award three more exploration concessions as part of its third hydrocarbons licensing round. The concessions are granted to a consortium of ENI and Total for Block 6, Eni for Block 8, and a consortium consisting of ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum for Block 10. Turkey’s energy minister Berat Albayrak states that his country will step up seismic exploration of oil and natural gas resources in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea this year. “We will take steps this year towards exploring and drilling in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea,” Albayrak told Anadolu Agency at the IHS CERAWeek 2017 energy conference in Houston. Turkey claims that part of block 6 lies within the Turkish continental shelf.

  47. April 19, 2017

    Turkey issues a Navtex, or notice to mariners, reserving an area inside the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone, off Famagusta, to carry out seismic surveys between April 30 and June 30. The reserved area (Navtex no. 410/17) covers an expanse from the bay of Famagusta to Apostolos Andreas off the tip of the Karpas peninsula. The area reserved for seismic studies includes parts of Cyprus’ EEZ, but also extends into part of Cyprus’ territorial waters. Turkey dispatches to the island its seismic survey vessel, the Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa.

  48. May 18, 2017

    The cabinet approves a proposal by state-owned Natural Gas Public Company (Defa) to proceed as soon as possible with two tenders for the import of natural gas. The first tender will provide for the creation of the necessary infrastructure and the second for the procurement of the natural gas, according to energy minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis.

  49. June 8, 2017

    Turkey’s energy minister Berat Albayrak, on a flash visit to the north, is taken aboard the Turkish seismic survey vessel Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa, according to reports in the Turkish Cypriot media.

  50. June 11, 2017

    Total confirms reports that it is poised to begin drilling for gas in its Block 11 concession in mid-July. Yves Grosjean, country manager for Total E&P Cyprus, tells the Cyprus Mail: “I can confirm that well preparation is on schedule for a start in mid July.” Total’s first-ever exploratory well in the Cypriot EEZ is dubbed ‘Onesiphorus West 1’. Drilling is to be carried out by the ultra-deepwater drillship ‘West Capella’.

  51. June, 2017

    In an item published in the Cyprus Mail, ExxonMobil said they and their Block 10 partners Qatar Petroleum have begun planning for drilling operations “and intend to drill a first exploration well in 2018.”

  52. July 7, 2017

    The UN announces deadlock in Cyprus reunification talks held in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. Taking part in the Cyprus Conference were the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides, the Republic of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey.

  53. July 12, 2017

    The West Capella drillship arrives at the designated drilling target in Block 11. A day later, the Turkish armed forces general staff states that it has ordered the frigate TCG Gokceada to track the West Capella. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says the arrival of the drillship shows the Greek Cypriot side’s “insincerity” about the reunification talks that failed the previous week. “The TRNC also has rights on the reserves around Cyprus. The Greek Cypriot side is carrying out unilateral activities,” Cavusoglu states. Turkey announces naval exercises for the following week in an area west of Cyprus. The area reserved by Turkey begins at a distance of some 14 nautical miles off the Akamas, and covers parts of Cyprus’ offshore blocks 5, 6, and 7.

  54. July 12, 2017

    Speaking on the sidelines of the 22nd World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul, Israel’s energy minister Yuval Steinitz states that Tel Aviv and Ankara have decided to accelerate efforts to conclude a pipeline agreement by the end of this year. He notes that such a deal would entail agreeing on the sea boundaries and without the involvement of Cyprus, Turkey could not sign. Steinitz claims Israel has sufficient gas reserves for both pipeline projects under consideration – the Israel to Turkey pipeline and the EastMed project. The ‘West Capella’ arrives at its designated drilling spot at the ‘Onesiphorus West 1’ site in Block 11.

  55. July 13, 2017

    Energy minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis says no mega-discovery is expected in Block 11, adding that initial assessments are that the Onesiphoros well may be of similar size to the Aphrodite reservoir in Block 12.

  56. July 17, 2017

    Turkey issues Navtex 711/17 by which it reserves for seismic surveys an area including parts of blocks 1, 6 and 7 of Cyprus’ EEZ, to the west and southwest of the island. The effective dates of the Turkish marine advisory are from July 17 to December 16. The seismic surveys are conducted by the survey ship Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa, supported by two other vessels, the Bravo and the Apollo Moon.

  57. Sep 12, 2017

    Energy minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis announces that the ‘Onesiphorus’ well in Block 11 has been found to contain less than half a trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas, and is therefore not commercially viable on its own.

  58. Dec 28, 2017

    THE Saipem 12000 deepwater drillship arrives on schedule at the target in Block 6 dubbed ‘Calypso’. The drillship has been contracted by the consortium of ENI and Total which have the licence on Block 6. According to daily Phileleftheros, after the Saipem 12000 had entered the Republic’s Search and Rescue (SAR) Area of Responsibility, a Turkish warship was spotted at a considerable distance. The Turkish vessel made no contact or attempt to intercept the drillship. On the same day, the Turkish research vessel Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa set a course for the Cypriot EEZ. Meanwhile the DeepSea Metro II, a drillship leased by Turkey, was making its way through the Mediterranean with Istanbul its destination. Turkish government officials repeatedly make noises about plans to drill for gas in the eastern Mediterranean – without specifying where.

  59. Early February:

    Having completed operations in Block 6, the Saipem 12000 drillship immediately heads for its next drilling target, dubbed ‘Cuttlefish’, in Block 3.

  60. February 9, 2013

    Turkish warships, claiming to be participating in military exercises in waters off the east of the island, interdict the Saipem 12000 en route to the ‘Cuttlefish’ site in offshore block 3. The drillship is immobilized at a distance of approximately 50km from the drilling spot.

  61. February 13, 2018

    ENI, the operators in Block 6, announce preliminary results for the prior drilling at ‘Calypso’, which could hold between six and eight tcf. An analysis of data revealed that Calypso “is a promising gas discovery and confirms the extension of the ‘Zohr-like’ play” into the Cypriot EEZ, ENI said in a company statement. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan warns Cyprus not to “overstep the mark” in the eastern Mediterranean, referring to ENI’s planned drilling in Block 3, which the breakaway regime claims to be part of its own ‘exclusive economic zone’. The European Union calls on Turkey to avoid threats and “refrain from any actions that might damage good neighbourly” ties after Cyprus accused the Turkish military of obstructing the drillship. Nicosia and Rome say they will expend all diplomatic efforts to resolve the standoff in Block 3. The Italian state has a stake in ENI.

  62. February 22, 2018

    Italian oil major ENI hints it may back out of Cyprus’ offshore Block 3 for the time being. Turkey again serves notice that, absent a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, it will not allow Greek Cypriots to ‘unilaterally’ exploit oil and gas resources around the island. ENI’s CEO Claudio says it is “very likely” the drillship contracted by his company would have to be moved to a new location – possibly Morocco – in coming days. “Then we’ll come back, waiting for international, European, Turkish, Greek and Cypriot diplomacy to find a solution,” Descalzi is quoted as saying. Reports surface that the breakaway regime’s ‘foreign minister’ Kudret Ozersay may have held meetings in Rome with ENI officials and possibly with Italian government officials. Both ENI and the Italian government deny the reports, but Ozersay insists he met with ENI officials, without naming them.

  63. February 23, 2018

    The Saipem 12000 drillship makes a second attempt to approach the drilling target in Block 3,but is again thwarted by Turkish warships. The drillship eventually leaves the area, setting a course for the port of Limassol.

  64. February 26, 2018

    The Saipem 12000 departs Cypriot waters, plotting a course for Morocco. Despite the setback in Block 3, officials insist that Cyprus will continue pursuing its gas exploration programme. The Turkish Cypriot side escalates its rhetoric. The north’s ‘energy minister’ Ozdil Nami calls for co-management of the island’s gas reserves. If not, he warns, Greek Cypriots should forget their energy plans until a Cyprus settlement is reached. “Turkish Cypriots have rights to all blocks,” Nami says, adding that Ankara was in a position to block planed drilling in all areas of Cyprus, including those not contested by either the breakaway regime or Ankara. Nicosia lays out its case to the United Nations but receives a lukewarm response. President Nicos Anastasiades speaks of the need to resume peace talks, but insists that hydrocarbons cannot be part of the negotiations. Anastasiades receives moral support from the EU during an informal gathering of leaders in Brussels. There, European Council President Donald Tusk says an upcoming EU-Turkey summit in March is conditional on Ankara ceasing its actions in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.