The Chinese National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) is one of the latest in a line of major oil and gas companies reported to show interest in obtaining a license to conduct exploratory drilling around the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.
According to Cypriot Interior Minister Neoklis Silikiotis a second licensing round covering 12 exploration blocks has been launched. These blocks, however, do not include the area where Noble Energy discovered gas last year, which was estimated to contain approximately 5 to 8 trillion ft3 on natural gas.
Silikiotis also stated that the establishment of a state-run energy company for the development of hydrocarbons was one of the Cypriot government’s top priorities. The minister also added that Cyprus and Israel are discussing a plan allowing for joint development of the natural gas reserves in the region; this would include building a pipeline to Southern Cyprus.
The positive outlook for hydrocarbon production in the region could yet be marred by Turkey’s claim over large areas of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone and the fact that Ankara does not recognise Cyprus as a sovereign state.
Cyprus has repeatedly complained about Ankara’s attempts at “bullying” and referred to military manoeuvres as “gunboat diplomacy” and little more than an attempt to scare off foreign investors.
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