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Energy giants Total and Eni have jointly bid for another licence to explore for and exploit oil and gas reserves off Cyprus despite warnings from Turkey, Cypriot authorities said Monday.
In October, Cyprus invited France’s Total, Italy’s Eni and ExxonMobil of the United States to bid for the unclaimed block 7 of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
‘An application was received on November 26, as part of the procedure for a Hydrocarbon Exploration Licence for block 7, by Total/Eni,’ the energy ministry said.
Nicosia decided to proceed with exploiting block 7 due to ‘very specific geological reasons’ after a discovery in block 6 announced by ENI in February.
ENI is the operator of block 6 with a 50% interest and Total has the other 50%.
Turkey has reacted angrily to the decision by Nicosia to invite energy players Total, ENI and ExxonMobil to exploit block 7.
The Turkish foreign ministry last month urged companies ‘to act with common sense and to duly consider the realities on the ground”.
According to Ankara, an ‘important segment’ of block 7 ‘remains within the outer limits of Turkey’s continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean’.
Turkey said it will take all necessary measures to protect its rights and not allow any third party to conduct exploratory activities.
Cyprus has pushed ahead with exploring for offshore energy resources despite the collapse in 2017 of talks to end the country’s decades-long division.
Turkey has deployed troops on the island since 1974 when it invaded and occupied its northern third in response to a coup sponsored by the military junta then ruling Greece.
Earlier this month, ExxonMobil began test drilling off Cyprus, although Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also warned foreign energy firms not to ‘overstep the mark’ in disputed waters.
Texas-based Noble Energy in 2011 made the first discovery off Cyprus in a block estimated to contain around 4.5 trillion cubic feet (130 billion cubic metres) of gas that has yet to be commercialised.
The discovery of nearby Egypt’s huge Zohr offshore reservoir in 2015 has stoked interest that Cypriot waters hold the same riches.
Cyprus aims for natural gas to start flowing to Egypt’s LNG facility in 2022.