The visit to Cyprus this coming week by a senior US energy official is an important development and a signal from the US government of its support for the island’s hydrocarbons development, Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Sunday.
US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Diplomacy, at the Department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resources, Robin Dunnigan is due on the island on Wednesday.
Dunnigan met Christodoulides in Washington last week with whom she discussed the prospects for energy cooperation between the two countries.
It was known that Dunnigan, who succeeded Amos J. Hochstein at the US Department of State, expressed her wish to represent the US administration at the signing of the contracts between Cyprus and ExxonMobil on April 5 for the third licensing round in Cyprus` exclusive economic zone.
The Trump administration’s secretary of state Rex Tillerson is a former CEO of ExxonMobil.
Cyprus is set to sign on April 5 and 6 contracts with the selected bidders of the third licensing round for explorations in blocks 6, 8 and 10 of its EEZ. Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis has confirmed that on signing the state will receive 103.5m euros.
The applicants selected in the third licensing round are the consortium of ENI and Total for Block 6, Eni for Block 8 and the consortium of ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum for Block 10.
Turkey has warned the island over moving ahead with planned drilling without a Cyprus settlement and has threatened it would do whatever was necessary to stop the move.
Christodoulides said on Sunday Dunnigan’s presence on the island would demonstrate US support and was at the same time a vote of confidence and an answer to “those who question the Cyprus Republic’s exercise of its sovereign rights”.
“The fact that the new US administration attaches a great importance to the Eastern Mediterranean, demonstrates in this context, the role the Republic of Cyprus as a pillar of stability and security in our region,” the spokesman said.
“The presence of energy giants, American and European, in the EEZ of Cyprus is the best answer to those who question the exercise of our sovereignty,” he added.