France’s Total Won’t Back Off Cyprus Energy Drilling


FILE - An undated photo of the the Saipem 12000 drilling floater. (Saipem via AP)

Joining US’ ExxonMobil which is looking for oil and gas off Cyprus where it is licensed to research, France’s energy giant Total said it would also continue to explore in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) where it has permits, ignoring threats from Turkey.

Total is committed to continuing its exploration work in Cyprus, Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne told Reuters, as part of a major exploration campaign for 2019 focused on areas known to contain commercial levels of oil and gas.

Speaking on the sidelines of an energy forum in Cairo, Pouyanne said he was discussing “the extension of our future drillings” and committed to new exploration.

The French oil major’s CEO also said he was also considering development of downstream petrochemicals assets in Egypt, where the company has invested in producing liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is demanding a share of any potentially lucrative finds be shared with Turkish-Cypriots occupying the northern third of the divided island since an unlawful 1974 invasion.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades agreed to that but Erdogan said he wants Turkish-Cypriots to also take part in the licensing of foreign energy companies even as Turkey had sent warships off the EEZ, parts of which it doesn’t recognize, in a bid to keep them from drilling.

Erdogan also has sent two energy research vessels into the Aegean and East Mediterranean waters as Greece is joining with Cyprus and Egypt in looking for energy, with Israel also an interested partner in ventures.