Five exploratory and five appraisal wells will be drilled in the next two years in offshore concessions inside Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said on Wednesday.
The announcement came amid tensions with Turkey over its drilling activities in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone and the censuring of Ankara by the EU, a development which angered Turkey and also irked Russia. Turkey warned it was sending a fourth ship to the region shortly. The announcement also comes as the Greek Cypriot side is to officially reject a proposal by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci for a joint committee on hydrocarbons.
Speaking at the Economist conference in Athens on Wednesday, Lakkotrypis noted a recent discovery by ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum with the reserve representing more than 40 per cent of the EU’s natural gas for 2018.
“This is an important discovery that will, of course, help us towards creating an energy corridor either as a producer, a consumer, or a transit country,” the minister said.
In February this year, ExxonMobil announced a gas find estimated between 5-8 trillion cubic feet (tcf) in the Glafcos (Glaucus) 1 well in Block 10 of the EEZ.
Glafcos was the second of a two-well drilling programme in Block 10. The first well, Delphine-1, did not encounter commercial quantities of hydrocarbons, the company said.
This is the second big find following Noble Energy’s discovery of 4.5 tcf in 2011 in the Aphrodite field in Block 12.
Block 10 spans an area of 2,572 square kilometres. ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Cyprus (Offshore) Limited is the operator and holds 60 per cent interest in the block. Qatar Petroleum International Upstream OPC holds 40 per cent interest.
Of Turkey’s violations, Lakkotrypis said Ankara’s target is to create instability in the Eastern Mediterranean and discourage energy giants from investing.
He suggested that Turkey could join the EastMed Gas Forum and become a part of the solution and not the problem.
The Cypriot government has urged Turkey repeatedly in recent days to agree to talks on the delineation of the sea zones without any response.
Also speaking at the Athens conference, Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides said Cyprus was aiming at a solution to the Cyprus issue, and good collaboration with Turkey.
He said that the Cypriot government envisages that within the next 10 to 20 years all the states in the
Eastern Mediterranean will be collaborating to ensure the region’s safety and prosperity.
In this context, he referred to the importance of creating a regional organisation of security and collaboration, which would include Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and at a later time Lebanon and Palestine.
“Turkey is not excluded from participating, rather the contrary,” he said. “We cannot alter geography, that is why we must collaborate with Turkey.”