Licensed energy companies for Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) remain committed to their programme despite the abandonment of many projects worldwide due to the consequences of the pandemic, Energy Minister Natasa Pilides said on Tuesday.

Pilides briefed the House energy committee on the her ministry`s plans on hydrocarbons exploration, the continuation of Cyprus’ drilling programme and the comprehensive planning for natural gas, as well as the actions of the Cyprus Hydrocarbons Company.

She told reporters after the meeting that activities in Cyprus EEZ are planned for the second half of 2021, noting that it was particularly positive for Cyprus, as many large companies around the world have abandoned many exploratory blocks.

“The fact that the programme continues into 2021 and discussions over the details step up is very positive for us,” she said.

She  added, however, that the fact that the pandemic continues to affect the entire world is something that must be taken into account, and expressed the hope that in the second half of 2021, conditions would allow exploratory activities to continue.

Replying to a question, she said that postponing of drills during 2020 had not affected the entire schedule and that planning was still in place in order for Cyprus to have the first natural gas in 2025-2026.  At this stage, she said, there is no delay, adding that if all goes well with the pandemic, they hope to keep to these timetables.

Replying to another question, she noted that the companies have not raised any issue of postponement due to Turkey. Asked about how many drillings were expected in the coming months, Pilides said drilling is expected from all licensees and discussions were being held with all consortia licensed in Cyprus’ EEZ.