NICOSIA – As it has before and was ignored, Cyprus’ government is protesting plans by Turkey, which has occupied the northern third of the island since an unlawful 1974 invasion, to drill for energy in waters where international companies have been licensed.
Turkey had sent a warship and energy research vessel into sovereign Cypriot waters before and issued what the Cypriot government called an unlawful NAVTEX reserving the area for its own exploration in violation of international laws Ankara doesn’t recognize.
“We are ready to face Turkey`s threats and plans for illegal drilling in Cyprus` Exclusive Economic Zone, as we have done so far, in an effective and cool manner,” Deputy Government Spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said, adding that official protests would also be lodged although it hasn’t deterred Turkey yet.
Papadopoulos was also asked to comment on a statement by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias that Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan has accepted exploratory contacts between Greece and Turkey dealing with Cyprus.
Being closely watched by Turkey, France’s Total and Italy’s Eni will start drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus by the end of the year or early in 2018, the island’s President Nicos Anastasiades said.
The work will be a joint exploration in an area designated as Block 6 after disappointing results in Block 11. Turkey, which has unlawfully occupied the northern third of the island since a 1974 invasion, said the legitimate government and international companies have no right to operate and said it would claim any share of potentially lucrative findings while also sending in an energy research vessel of its own.
Anastasiades made the announcement to the French daily Le Figaro while in Paris to meet President Emmanuel Macron and Total’s Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne, the news agency Reuters said.
Anastasiades told the paper in an interview that Pouyanne said to him in the meeting that the oil majors would move ahead despite not getting any results in their initial effort after hope there could be a find.
“Yes, (block 11) was disappointing in terms of quantity, but the results are very promising for future drilling. It confirmed the presence of hydrocarbons in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone, an extension of the Zohr field in Egypt,” Anastasiades said.
Eni was awarded the right in December 2016 to be operator of Block 6 with a 50 percent stake in partnership with Total.
Total was the operator of Block 11 in which it agreed a farm-in agreement with Eni for a 50 percent stake.