US giant ExxonMobil said Wednesday it plans to start drilling at two sites in the second half of 2018 to explore for energy reserves off the south coast of Cyprus.
Preparations to support the drilling operations are already underway, the company´s vice president Tristan Aspray said at a presentation in Nicosia.
He said the operations would take place back-to-back and begin in the second half of 2018.
ExxonMobil with Qatar Petroleum has signed a licence agreement with the Cyprus government to explore block 10 for oil and gas as part of a third licensing round to exploit new offshore plots.
Block 10 is close to where ENI made a huge find in Egypt´s offshore “Zohr” field, raising hopes in Cyprus of more untapped wealth.
US firm Noble Energy made the first find off southeast Cyprus in 2011 in the Aphrodite field (Block 12), estimated to contain 127.4 billion cubic metres (4.54 trillion cubic feet) of gas.
Israeli firms Delek and Avner have a 30-percent stake in the venture. Noble has handed over a 35 percent share to the UK’s BG International.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s naval blockade near Cyprus continued preventing the Italian energy company Eni from drilling in plot 6 of the Cypriot exclusive economic zone for the eighth consecutive day yesterday. Reuters quoted Claudio Descalzi, Eni CEO, saying about the situation; “It’s not really under our control.”