The continuing COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic has led a French-Italian consortium to stop drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus' coast, just as the US company ExxonMobil had already done.
France's Total and Italy's Eni had joined in a license in an area of the island's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) while Turkey is also hunting for energy in Cypriot waters with little pushback from the European Union, off which Cyprus is a member.
Turkey has occupied the northern third of the island since an unlawful 1974 invasion and doesn't recognize the legitimate governments, bars its ships and planes and disputes the EEZ's sovereignty.
The consortium sent a letter to Cypriot authorities announcing their decision, said Kathimerini Cyprus, reporting the drilling has been put off until 2021, further setting back hopes there could be lucrative finds.
Eni and Total had been scheduled to start drilling in Block 6 of Cyprus’ EEZ and to have continued in two other blocks. US energy giant Exxonmobil has also postponed its planned activities in Block 10 until 2021, but not canceled.