By George Psyllides
US Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis Fannon reiterated his government’s support to the Republic of Cyprus’ right to develop its natural wealth, adding that his country promotes energy developments in the Eastern Mediterranean region as a matter of priority.
Fannon, who was visiting Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis, made the comments came as ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum started drilling in block 10 of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.
The American diplomat said his visit was part of a regional trip to discuss energy development in the region. Cyprus was his second stop after Israel, and he will also travel to Egypt.
“We view energy as a catalyst for cooperation, economic development and to benefit all the people in the region and Cyprus has a meaningful role to that end,” Fannon said. “We are very excited about the developments ongoing in the region and the great promise.”
He added that he was happy to see US company involvement and reiterated the US long-standing position of recognising Cyprus’ right to develop resource wealth in its EEZ.
“We also continue our long-standing position that we believe that resource wealth should be shared with all communities on the island equitably in the context of a comprehensive settlement,” the US official said.
Noting that this visit to Cyprus will not be the only one, Fannon added “we will continue to advance Eastern Mediterranean energy as a priority.”
“I very much expect to be back as we advance the broader energy cooperation for the region,” he concluded.
Lakkotrypis expressed his gratitude for the support to Cyprus energy programme.
Describing the meeting as very productive, the Cypriot Minister said the discussion focused on ways of developing the region’s energy resources but also on developments in Cyprus concerning exploration and natural gas exploitation.
“We agreed to continue discussions and collaborate with the US and the countries of the region on a common goal, the efficient development of energy resources of the Eastern Mediterranean to benefit the people,” the minister said.
The Stena Icemax drillship leased by ExxonMobil arrived on location at the Delphine target in block 10 on Sunday. The drilling is expected to last around two months.
After finishing with Delphine, the rig will move to either Glafkos or Anthea targets. The choice of the second target will depend, in part, on the findings of the first drilling in Delphine.