Italian energy firm Eni has assured that its commitment towards Cyprus was a given, as was its natural gas drilling programme, Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said on Friday.
The minister said he spoke to Eni officials in the morning and asked for clarifications about a comment made by CEO Claudio Descalzi the previous day that his company would not drill off Cyprus if it meant having to deal with warships.
“It seems Mr. Descalzi, without of course wanting to speak on his behalf, was replying to a question whether he was concerned about Turkey’s escalating provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean region … and he, if you see the response, replied that he was not concerned but he went on to say that they don’t want any incident to be caused.”
A company spokesman told him that the CEO’s comment concerned the safety of the company’s personnel, the minister said.
Eni’s commitment towards Cyprus is a given and this was reflected by the fact that preparations relating to its exploration programme continued, Lakkotrypis said.
“We understand that nothing has changed as regards their commitment to our country.”
“At this point, we know the planning, the window when the drilling will start, we know the targets that were selected, but we choose not to make any reference,” he said.
Though not finalised yet, the plan is for drilling to start by the end of the year or early in 2020.
On Thursday, Descalzi was quoted as saying by AFP news agency that his company ENI would not risk prospecting off Cyprus if the area was a hot zone.
“I am not worried… (but) if someone turns up with warships, I won’t drill wells,” he said.
“I certainly don’t want to start wars for wells,” Descalzi told journalists on the sidelines of an event in Rome.
Later on Friday, Eni said it was committed to the exploration of Cyprus’ EEZ and its contractual engagements with the country, its chief executive said on Friday.
In reply to a Reuters request for comment on Eni’s position, Chief Executive Claudio Descalzi added the group was planning a joint exploration campaign in the first half of 2020 together with its French partner Total