NICOSIA – Despite coming up dry so far, France’s Total is closing in on a deal to keep exploring for natural gas offshore, Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said.
Cyprus is hoping for lucrative finds as it tries to recover from an economic crisis even though it could take years to develop, and as Turkey has sent in a research vessel and warship to contest the country’s waters and make its claim to any energy that may be found.
“The renewed agreement that we hope we will be signing next week will be talking about doing geological surveys in a different area but no drilling,” Lakkotrypis said while speaking at an event at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. the news agency Reuters said.
“They can drill if they identify a drillable prospect, which unfortunately they have not done so far,” he said.
Total confirmed in January that it had completed surveys over two Cypriot offshore blocks for which it had licenses, without finding potential drilling targets.
Italy’s ENI failed to find gas in a drill last year and is now searching elsewhere off Cyprus. U.S. energy company Noble found gas reserves in 2011.
Total is among a number of international oil exploration and production companies, including BP and ConocoPhillips, but they have cut their research budgets as the price of oil has plummeted.