Cyprus is taking all necessary measures to ensure that US energy giant, ExxonMobil’s exploratory programme in the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) proceeds smoothly, Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said on Sunday.
He also reiterated that developments on the Cyprus problem should not affect the country’s energy programme.
ExxonMobil, which along with Qatar Petroleum has been awarded the exploration licence in block 10, will carry out two exploration wells in the fourth quarter 2018, Lakkotrypis said, speaking to the press in Larnaca.
“The procedures for Exxon to obtain the necessary licences are proceeding as planned and two wells will be carried out in Q4,” he said.
Lakkotrypis did not elaborate on the licences which the company should obtain.
“What’s important is that we are progressing according to our timeframe and planning,” he said, adding that shortly the timeframe for the arrival of Exxon’s drilling vessel would be known.
Asked to comment on reports by Philelefteros that US planes would discretely monitor the drilling, Lakkotrypis said: “We are taking all necessary measures so that the two drillings proceed without any unforeseen developments.”
“That is why you see that we are diplomatically more active as the time for these drillings is getting closer,” he added.
Replying to a question whether developments in the field of energy would affect a possible new round of Cyprus talks, Lakkotrypis said the two issues should not be linked.
“We continue with our plans, which cannot change because they are included in contractual obligations and, as the President of the Republic has said a few days ago, under no circumstances should developments in the Cyprus problem affect our energy programme.”
Asked about a possible new licensing round, the minister said it could not be ruled out at a certain time, depending on developments.
He recalled that Cyprus’ third licensing round was launched following the discovery of the giant Zhor gas field in the Egyptian EEZ.
So far Cyprus has carried out three licensing rounds awarding exploration licences for eight of its offshore blocks.
In early 2018, Turkish warships blocked twice SAIPEM 12000, a drillship commissioned by Italian energy company ENI, from carrying out drilling operations in block 3 of Cyprus` EEZ for two weeks before the platform eventually left.