Eni, Total expanding foothold in Cyprus

Italian oil and gas explorer Eni, together with its French partner Total, has plans to further explore for hydrocarbons in Cyprus, despite a recent setback when the company had to move its drillship out of the country amid Turkey objecting.

According to a statement this week by the Cypriot energy ministry, Eni and Total have applied for a hydrocarbon research license for the Offshore Block 7 in the country’s exclusive economic zone.

The ministry said it would examine the request in the coming days, and eventually come up with a decision.

Cyprus’ energy minister Georgios Lakotryypis also confirmed the news via social media where he also shared the map of offshore blocks.

He said: “This afternoon I informed President Anastasiades about the filing of an application for a hydrocarbon research permit for Block 7 of the Cypriot #ΑΟΖ by the Consortium @TOTAL/@ENI.”

This is not the first time Eni and Total have cooperated offshore Cyprus. They also share ownership in the blocks 6 & 11.

The two oil and gas majors in February 2018 announced “a lean gas discovery” in Block 6 Offshore Cyprus at the Calypso 1 NFW, confirming earlier reports by the Cypriot media.

At the time, Eni said Calypso 1 was a promising gas discovery and confirmed the extension of the “Zohr like” play in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), referring to its Zohr field which recently started producing offshore Egypt. Zohr is seen as the largest gas field in the Mediterranean.

While the news of Calypso was uplifting for Eni, later in February, when the drillship used for the discovery attempted to move to the Soupia well located in the Block 3, it was blocked by the Turkish navy on the grounds of the expected military operation at the destination.

Both Turkey and the breakaway state of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – recognized only by Turkey – have accused the internationally recognized government of Cyprus of unilaterally conducting hydrocarbon exploration only for the benefit of the Greek side, without taking into consideration the Turkish Cypriots’ interests.

Cyprus’ president Nicos Anastasiades has said the government’s “goal is to fully explore Cyprus’s hydrocarbon potential, in the best terms possible, so as to maximize the benefits for all the people of Cyprus,” dismissing the Turkish side’s accusations as unfounded and unjustified.

Eni then moved the Saipem 12000 drillship to Morocco, with its CEO Claudio Descalzi saying that Eni would not relinquish its interests in the area, but would wait for the “for international, European, Turkish, Greek and Cypriot diplomacy to find a solution.”

Oil and gas explorers have shown an increasing interest in Cyprus’ hydrocarbon potential, and that of the Eastern Mediterranean overall,  following giant gas discoveries made recently in the region, namely Noble Energy’s Leviathan gas field offshore Israel, and Eni’s Zohr discovery, offshore Egypt.

The U.S. oil and gas major ExxonMobil recently started drilling the drilling of “Delphyne-1” well in the offshore Block 10.

Exxon is the operator of the Block 10, with its partner being Qatar Petroleum. The duo won the block as part of the third offshore licensing round in December 2016.

Turkey has again objected saying the ‘unilateral’ drilling would not bring peace to the Eastern Mediterranean region, adding it will itself start drilling in “areas licensed by the Turkish Cypriots.”

Offshore Energy Today Staff