By Elias Hazou
ENI-KOGAS are continuing their operations normally within offshore Block 9 and do not anticipate that their drilling schedule will in any way be affected by the latest Turkish moves.
The consortium’s ongoing operations at the Onasagoras reservoir are proceeding according to plan, government sources said.
Last week Turkey issued a NAVTEX (Navigational Telex), a notice to mariners advising that it was reserving areas south of Cyprus for seismic surveys from October 20 to December 30.
The coordinates reserved under the NAVTEX trespass into offshore blocks 1, 2, 3, 8 and 9 of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Inside block 9, the area reserved by the Turkish advisory directly borders – but does not overlap – the spot where ENI-KOGAS are currently conducting exploratory drilling for natural gas, on licence from the Republic of Cyprus.
Moreover, none of the areas reserved by the Turkish advisory – which Cyprus has dismissed as null and void -overlap with any of the areas reserved by Cyprus for ENI’s operations.
In early September, ahead of the arrival of ENI’s drillship, the Saipem 10000, Cyprus authorities had issued a NAVTEX reserving areas for ENI in blocks 2, 3 and 9.
Where these three offshore blocks are concerned, the areas reserved by Turkey lie within a short distance – sometimes within a few nautical miles – just north of the areas where ENI will be operating.
Due to the sheer size of offshore blocks, a NAVTEX typically reserves only certain sections of any given block.
However, the areas reserved by Turkey do come between the Cypriot coastline and the areas where ENI is operating.
This could conceivably pose a minor nuisance to the operations, in that ENI’s support vessels – travelling back and forth to the drillship and the port of Larnaca – may have to skirt the areas reserved by Turkey and take a longer route.
The Turkish NAVTEX enters into effect on October 20 and expires on December 30, although it could be renewed. ENI’s drilling schedule is expected to last between 12 and 18 months, according to officials.
ENI itself declined comment in response to questions from the Cyprus Mail.
On Saturday, on the back of the Turkish NAVTEX, the Turkish foreign ministry issued a press release saying it would provide support to the breakaway regime’s seismic research activities, including acquiring a drilling platform and “dispatching it to an area to be determined.”
Speaking on the state broadcaster on Tuesday, Solon Kassinis, former head of the energy service, said he did not think the oil companies were unduly perturbed by the Turkish moves.
“We had the same situation with Block 12,” he said, alluding to another Turkish seismic survey ship, which for over a fortnight in November 2011 was wandering in offshore blocks 4, 5, 6, 10, 11 and12.
Kassinis also downplayed Turkey’s stated intent to bring a drilling platform to Cyprus’ offshore blocks, doubting that Turkey would find a corporation willing to do that.