Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said on Tuesday international energy companies had no intention to start their drilling programmes in block 7 of Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The minister was responding to reports saying the consortium of energy companies ENI and Total was withdrawing from block 7 following Turkish provocations in the area.
According to a navigational warning issued by Ankara, the Turkish drillship Yavuz, which has returned to Cyprus’ EEZ, will carry out drilling operations inside block 7, located off the south-western coast of Cyprus.
Block 7 has been licensed by the government of Cyprus to France’s Total and Italy’s ENI for drilling operations.
Addressing The Economist Conference in Nicosia, Lakkotrypis said the companies made their decisions on the basis of geological data and they will start with the most interesting and mature targets they find.
He added that usually it took between 1.5 and 2 years between licensing and first drilling. He also said that the decisions would be based on the discovery of the Glaucus deposit in block 10. There was no intention, he added, to start drilling in block 7.
Lakkotrypis said Glaucus was one of the biggest discoveries in 2019 with between 5 and 8 trillion cubic feet of gas and the largest so far in Cyprus’ EEZ.
Referring to the exploitation of the Aphrodite deposit in block 12, he said the ministry was in the final stages of an agreement on a development and production plan, taking into account the Egyptian liquefaction terminals in Idku, something that could be a first step for the gas corridor of the Eastern Mediterranean.
The minister also said that an extensive drilling programme was expected from all companies between the end of the year and early next year.
Addressing the conference, ExxonMobil’s Vice-president for exploration and new ventures for Europe, Russia, Caspian, and MENA Don Bagley, referred to the increased presence of the company in the Eastern Mediterranean, not only in Cyprus but also with new licences in Crete and in Egypt.
Concerning Cyprus, he said that with their partners Qatar Petroleum, they had made a significant discovery in block 10 with Glaucus and were looking forward “to getting out there this year to appraise that discovery and help us with the commercialisation decision”.