ExxonMobil acquires majority exploration rights for Crete region

Hellenic Petroleum on Tuesday announced that ExxonMobil acquired the majority of hydrocarbon exploration rights in the region of west and southwest of Crete, following the departure of TotalEnergies.

ExxonMobil and TotalEnergies, with 40% each, and Hellenic Petroleum (20%), previously had the majority of hydrocarbon exploration rights. Hellenic Petroleum said that ExxonMobil now has 70% of exploration rights and Hellenic Petroleum the remaining 30%.

A series of seismic research was conducted in the region in 2012.

In December 2021, 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.

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.

Turkey has claimed that by licensing gas exploration, Cyprus violated its continental shelf and warned that it would 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 international community's position 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.