The consortium Exxon Mobil-Qatar Petroleum is expected to receive the necessary offshore drilling licences in the coming days, reports said on Saturday.
Phileleftheros newspaper reported that on July 30 the environmental licence is expected to be examined and approved.
The licence deals with the two drillings that are set to take place in the eastern part of block ten in the ‘Delfini’ (dolphin) field, and in either the ‘Anthia’ or ‘Glafkos’ fields.
The newspaper reported that the drilling is expected to start in mid-November.
Last month the agreement for drillship to be used was signed. The exploratory drillings of the American company, according to the daily, will be conducted by a drillship from the UK. The drillship is reported to be able to perform in different environmental conditions and to drill at a depth of approximately 35,000 feet below sea level.
In June, a delegation from the US company led by Exxon Mobil’s vice-president for Europe, Russia, Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East visited Cyprus to discuss the forthcoming drilling.
The delegation met with Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis and Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides.
Lakkotrypis said then that two drillings were planned for block 10, and the geological studies were recently completed.
The minister said block 10 had resulted in the biggest participation in the third licensing round, “so we have expectations”.
ExxonMobil’s Ocean Investigator research vessel sailed from Limassol port back in March to carry out hydrocarbon explorations for the US oil giant in block 10 of the Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
In February this year, Italian energy giant ENI’s drillship Saipem 12000 was prevented from reaching its target in block 3 Soupia, or Cuttlefish, in the island’s EEZ by Turkish naval forces. The standoff lasted two weeks before the platform moved on to Morocco.
The CEO of Italian energy giant, Claudio Descalzi, was defiant in the face of Turkish threat, saying the company was committed to its plans and would not just leave behind the €700 million it has invested in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Turkey is laying claim to parts of various blocks in Cyprus’ EEZ saying the areas in question form part of its continental shelf. The claim includes part of Blocks 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Block 10 is not among the claims.
Turkish Cypriots signed a ‘Continental Shelf Delimitation Agreement’ with Turkey in September 2011. This ‘agreement’ states that it has been signed in line with international law and with respect to the principle of equity, though the ‘TRNC’ is not recognised internationally. It is on this basis that Turkish Cypriots declared an ‘EEZ’ which in effect claims that half of Cyprus’ EEZ belongs to them, including blocks 1,2,3,8,9,12 and 13.