The Republic’s natural gas exploration programme will continue without interruption, President Nicos Anastasides said Thursday, as appraisal drilling by ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum was underway at an offshore field inside the exclusive economic zone.

“I am not saying that drilling will take place next year, but there will certainly be exploratory work in block five, which has been licenced to ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum,” Anastasiades said, responding to a question whether the consortium would also carry out drilling in an area claimed by Turkey.

“The Republic of Cyprus’ exploratory programme will continue without interruption.”

Appraisal drilling is underway at the Glaucus site in offshore block 10 where in February 2019 ExxonMobil and partner Qatar Petroleum announced a discovery with an estimated 5-8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The current appraisal, or follow-up, drilling will give a clearer picture of the reservoir’s resource potential.

Exxon’s drilling programme in block 10, which could include more exploratory drilling in 2022, will be conducted in an area not claimed by Turkey.

The consortium has recently been granted the rights to block five, which adjoins block 10.