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As govt braces for gas delays, Turkeys says it will continue drilling in Cyprus’ EEZ

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

As the Cyprus government is looking at a long delay in  its hydrocarbons programme, Turkey says it plans to continue drilling in the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said during an online discussion organised by the Turkish branch of the Atlantic Council that Ankara would continue drilling and even deploy a third drillship.

He said Turkey had told the EU, the UN and even Greece that the Greek Cypriots should not have carried out any unilateral activities when it comes to drilling or exploitation in the Eastern Mediterranean before reaching an agreement on a fair distribution of revenue with the Turkish Cypriots. Ankara’s position was however ignored, he said.

“We continue to propose a new dialogue on the Eastern Mediterranean at the highest level. President [Tayyip] Erdogan did propose this in London to [Greek] Prime Minister [Kyriacos] Mitsotakis, but Greece prefers to put pressure on Turkey’s legal rights in the region instead of responding to our calls for honest dialogue,” Cavusoglu said.

“For reasonable stability, the main goal should be for the two sides to come together on the island for a fair distribution of revenue, and the proposal of the Turkish Cypriot authorities represents the only logical and realistic basis for a solution,” he said, referring to the Turkish Cypriot side’s proposal to jointly manage hydrocarbons planning simultaneously with negotiations on the Cyprus issue.

The Greek Cypriot side rejects the proposal saying previous Cyprus talks have already converged on gas management after a settlement.

Earlier this week it emerged that US giants Exxon Mobil informed the government they would be delaying a planned drill in their block 10 concession in Cyprus’ EEZ, with other oil companies expected to do the same due to the ongoing coronavirus situation as well as the sharp drop in energy prices globally.

Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis confirmed that in recent days he was informed in writing by ExxonMobil that they have pushed back to September 2021 an appraisal (or follow-up) well at the site dubbed Glafcos in block 10.

The appraisal well there was initially scheduled for this summer. A second appraisal operation at the same site, planned for late 2020 or early 2021, has likewise been postponed to early 2022.

ENI and Total had planned to carry out exploratory drilling at a site dubbed Kronos in block 6.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, work had been due to start in early February, but was delayed owing to technical issues faced by the drillship, the Tungsten Explorer, while it was operating in Egyptian waters.

The rig is currently drilling in Lebanese waters, where it’s expected to finish sometime in late April. After that, it had been scheduled to come to Cyprus.

Although it’s understood that ENI and Total haven’t formally informed the government that the Kronos drill has been put on hold, a postponement is considered likely.

Without specifically referring to Cyprus, ENI recently announced it was reviewing its activities in 2020 and 2021, as well as all its energy projects in the Middle East, with the aim of reducing capital expenditures.

Noble Energy had also been planning an appraisal well at Aphrodite in block 12.



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