Gas: Cyprus minister,Eni forward despite Turkish provocation

Lakkotrypis, we will be eastern Med energy centre

19 November, 17:59

    Hydrocarbon exploration map in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus Hydrocarbon exploration map in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus

    (ANSAmed) - ROME - Turkey has carried out a ''pure provocation'' in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) but the government of Cyprus will continue its diplomatic work and Eni's exploration activities will go on as scheduled, Cyprus' Energy Minister Yorgios Lakkotrypis told reporters in Rome.

    The minister was referring to the presence of seismic data ship Barbaros and additional vessels in the island's southern waters.

    He recalled that the European parliament has already condemned Ankara's decision to send the vessels with a resolution on November 14, a reaction also expressed by the US, Egypt and Israel.

    The issue will be discussed by Cyprus on the sidelines of a Euro-Mediterranean energy conference in Rome Wednesday, Lakkotrypis said.

    The Italian government is ''of great support'', the minister also said, and the role of Eni and Italy in the strategic plans of Cyprus in the energy sector are very important for its government, he stressed.

    As far as Ankara's interest in hydrocarbons in those waters, he added, the issue ''will not even be on the table'' before an agreement to re-unify the island is reached.

    UN-sponsored negotiations on the issue have been ongoing but were interrupted by Cyprus after the Turkish vessel entered the EEZ on October 20.

    Talking about the strategic vision of the Cypriot government over the next few years, Lakkotrypis said Cyprus means to be the ''energy centre of eastern Mediterranean'' through the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves in its EEZ and thanks to its good relations with neighbouring countries (Lebanon, Israel and Egypt) and collaborations with large international groups including Eni.

    Eni holds an 80% stake in a consortium with South Korean Kogas to explore three EEZ blocks - number two, three and nine - an operation that started on September 14 right next to where Turkish vessel Barbaros is located.

    Drilling operations will have to determine the presence and entity of fields - at least four said the minister - and will be ongoing as scheduled until December 31.

    If searches will be successful ''the excellent relations with Italy'' will continue, the minister added, as ''it is important to establish an Italian presence in Cyprus'', in continuity with those of Eni and Edison along the coasts of Egypt and Israel.

    But Cyprus is also eyeing Europe as a ''priority'' commercial partner, thinking about diversified provision lines: in particular liquid natural gas, as well as a potential ''pipeline'' reaching Europe through Israel and Greece.

    Such a hypothesis, he added, must be considered in its various technical aspects.

    Other energy giants like Total and Noble operate in the EEZ of Cyprus.(ANSAmed).

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