Cyprus Mail

Energy minister plays down Turkish threats over gas drilling

Energy policy on track: Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis

Turkish threats over the Republic’s natural gas exploration are nothing new, Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said on Monday, reiterating that Cyprus would continue applying its policy on energy.

“Provocations and threats are nothing new,” the minister said.

Ankara had issued threats in 2007, 2011, when US-based Noble Energy started drilling, as well as 2012, when Cyprus announced its second hydrocarbon licensing round.

“We must handle them calmly and certainly we must be prepared well,” Lakkotrypis said.

Last week, the Turkish foreign ministry threatened that it would not allow foreign energy companies to carry out their drills inside Cyprus exclusive economic zone, claiming it was protecting its interests and those of the Turkish Cypriots.

The statement followed the signing in Nicosia of contracts with the energy giants – Total, Eni, ExxonMobil — that won the concessions.

The minister said the reason for freezing activities in the past was not threats from Turkey but the failed drills in block nine before the subsequent discovery of vast natural gas reserves by neigbouring Egypt.

Eni announced it had struck out in block nine in March 2015 but some five months later it announced a huge discovery in the Zohr field, which is contiguous to Cyprus’ block 11.

The company said it had used a different geological model in the case of Cyprus.

The geological model is essentially a reconstruction of the bedrock structure based on seismic surveys, combined with an analysis of the probability of the presence of hydrocarbons.

The Zohr find rekindled interest in the Eastern Mediterranean with Total saying last week it would be drilling there in the first two weeks of July.

“We went ahead with the third licensing round whose results you have recently seen,” the minister said. “We tried and succeeded to attract energy giants to the third licensing round. Our effort was, and continues to be, the alignment of interests in our energy policy.”

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