American energy giant ExxonMobil will go ahead with drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus later this year, ignoring Turkish threats to stop foreign companies from operating in the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) parts of which it doesn’t recognize.
That was the declaration of Tristan Aspray, the company’s Vice-President for Exploration in Europe, Russia and the Caspian, during an investment forum hosted by the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency at Bloomberg’s European headquarters in London.
He sidestepped political implications about the standoff between Cyprus and Turkey, saying it was up to the two governments to settle even though Turkey, which put warships off the island, said it wouldn’t allow drilling to proceed.
“We are happy to be in Cyprus,” he said, adding his company is at the final stages of preparation for the two exploratory drills in Block 10, located southwest of the island.
Asked by Greek broadcaster SKAI when drills will start, he said it would be in the last quarter of the year but didn’t give a date.
Turkey said it wants a share of any potentially lucrative finds, to which Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades agreed, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he also wants Turkish-Cypriots on the northern third that’s been occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion to take part in the drilling plans or that Turkey would go ahead and authorize explorations in the same region.