US’ ExxonMobil Finds Big Gas Reserve Off Cyprus

FILE - ExxonMobil Senior Vice President Neil Chapman, left, and Cyprus' Energy Minister Georgios Lakkotrypis leave, after a meeting with Cyprus' president Nicos Anastasiades at the presidential palace in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday Oct. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

In what could raise stakes and tension with Turkey, which has tried to stop international energy companies from drilling off the divided island of Cyprus, the United States’ ExxonMobil said it had made a big gas find in waters where it is licensed to look.

According to the preliminary interpretation of the data, the natural gas reservoir at the Glaucus-1 well is estimated between 5 trillion to 8 trillion cubic feet, Kathimerini Cyprus said in a report.

The company said it will analyze the data in the coming months to better assess the field’s potential but it is the bigger find in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) parts of which Turkey doesn’t recognize and as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had sent warships to try to block drilling, and plans to do its own.

to get a clearer picture of the reserve’s potential.

ExxonMobil Vice President of Exploration for Europe, Russia, and the Caspian, Tristan Aspray, briefed Cyprus President Nicos Anastasia’s on the company’s initial finding, the news report said.

ExxonMobil and partner Qatar Petroleum started drilling in block 10 of the EEZ in mid-November, 2018, ignoring warnings from Erdogan they wouldn’t be allowed to keep looking for potentially lucrative gas and oil fields.

Texas’ Noble Energy made a significant discovery in the country’s Aphrodite field in 2011, while last February, Italy’s ENI discovered Calypso in block 6, though confirmatory drilling is still pending. An ENI ship had been scared off by Turkish warships.

Anastasiades said he was willing to share revenue finds from energy with Turkish-Cypriots who’ve been occupying the northern third since an unlawful 1974 invasion but Erdogan wants them to take part in the licensing too.