By George Psyllides
TOTAL’S decision to quit its operation in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone is the result of its inability to locate drilling target areas, Foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides said yesterday.
He also noted that the decision was taken way before a Turkish research vessel was sent to the area to conduct seismic surveys, violating the island’s sovereign rights.
Speaking to reporters, Kasoulides said that the government requested that Total stayed in Cyprus.
“We asked the company to continue the discussions to find a legally acceptable solution,” the minister said, adding that Total “gladly accepted” due to its continued interest in Cyprus’ EEZ.
The French oil and gas giant, licensed for exploration activities in Cyprus’ EEZ blocks 10 and 11, was not able to locate drilling target areas.
The minister noted, however, that the company cannot “generate gas” where this does not exist.
Energy minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said on Thursday the “possibility of coming to an arrangement at this moment is remote.”
“We’ve had numerous discussions since September about this; we’ll see what happens next. But I must emphasise that anything that can be done must be within the framework of the law, the rules, and in the interest of the state,” he added.
DIKO chairman Nicolas Papadopoulos insisted that it was the president supposedly putting the natural gas issue on the negotiating table that prompted Total to leave.
When it was pointed out to him that Total has been considering leaving since September, while Anastasiades made the statement in question earlier this month, Papadopoulos said: “Apparently the announcement of the president’s statement was an additional factor that tipped the scale. It might not have been the only factor, but it made things worse.”
EDEK said the government should look into whether there were political reasons behind Total’s decision.