Cyprus and a consortium made up of ExxonMobil and Qatar Energy signed a natural gas exploration and production sharing contract relating to an offshore field, Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry Natasa Pilides said on Friday.
The signing came in the face of a strong reaction by Turkey which claims exploration rights in an area off the southwestern Cypriot shores, which includes block 5 of the officially declared Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that was licensed to the consortium.
Pilides said that despite the increasingly difficult working environment for the global oil and gas industry, the licensing enhances a mutually beneficial partnership in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.
Pilides said ExxonMobil will be the operator and will have a 60 percent participation in the project, while Qatar Energy, formerly Qatar Petroleum, will have a 40 percent share.
The ExxonMobil-Qatar Energy consortium has another concession relating to block 10 of Cyprus’ EEZ, in which it discovered a sizeable natural gas field containing an estimated 6.5 billion cubic feet of gas.
A new drilling in the field is scheduled to start in the coming weeks to accurately estimate the gas quantity.
Turkey has claimed that by licensing gas exploration Cyprus violated its continental shelf and warned that it will not allow unauthorized exploration in its marine jurisdiction.
It also said that the agreement violated the rights of Turkish Cypriots, who live in a part of Cyprus controlled by Turkish troops.
Cyprus rebuffed the Turkish assertions, saying that it “deliberately fails to comply with International Law, by making groundless claims and disregarding the position of the international community in full support of the sovereign rights of Cyprus in its own continental shelf.”
Turkey has been at odds for many years with both Greece and Cyprus over rights in the eastern Mediterranean, and has sent warships to keep watch on gas exploration carried out by energy companies such as France’s Total and Italy’s ENI. Enditem