Preparations for second licensing round in Cyprus’ EEZ
The documents concerning the second licensing round in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone will be sent next Monday to the EU, in order to be translated for their publication in the EU’s Official Journal, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Praxoula Antoniadou said. Antoniadou was speaking after a meeting of the Ministerial Committee, responsible for dealing with the management of hydrocarbons in the EEZ, at the Ministry of Commerce, in Nicosia. The drafting of contract documents is being finalized, adding that these documents will provide the base for the allocation of blocks in Cyprus’ EEZ during the second phase of licensing.
She further said that a group of experts, responsible for advising the President of the Republic on the matter, will visit the island next week and will have contacts with the Ministerial Committee, experts and possibly the President himself. Antoniadou said that during these contacts, potential cooperation and infrastructure issues would be also discussed.
The second licensing round concerns, according to the Minister, all remaining EEZ blocks. She added that interest on acquiring the seismic data, collected from the area, has been demonstrated by many companies.
“The real extent of interest will become obvious after the official launching of the second round of licensing”
Antoniadou noted. Asked how the government expects to deal with possible Turkish provocative actions, the Minister of Commerce said that all actions in block 12 and future actions in the remaining blocks enjoy international support and recognition of Cyprus’ sovereign rights in its EEZ. In relation to Turkish moves aiming at weakening the interest of foreign companies to apply in Cyprus’ second licensing round, Antoniadou responded that these are only scenarios.
On another question concerning the utilization of natural gas by the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC), the Minister said that the issue will also be discussed with the experts next week and added that the EAC is committed to produce energy by using natural gas by 2015. “We will see how this goal materializes”, Antoniadou said.
Asked on the energy authority that will handle all relevant issues, Antoniadou responded that it was too early to discuss all aspects at the Ministerial Committee, shortly after the official announcement of the findings of reserves. It would not be wise to say that decisions have been taken within few days concerning all strategic moves, Antoniadou noted. She further said that decisions will need to be taken quickly, but not to the expense of quality.
On a question regarding cooperation with Israel on infrastructure, the Minister said that one couldn’t speak of an official demonstration of interest by the state but of companies. She further added that cooperation on the issue of mutually exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves with Israel is advancing. Present during the meeting were also the Minister of Interior Neoclis Sylikiotis, Minister of Finance Kikis Kazamias, the Under Secretary to the President Titos Christofides and other officials. Turkey, whose troops occupy Cyprus’ northern part since they invaded in 1974, does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus. Following a decision by Nicosia to begin natural gas and oil exploration in its exclusive economic zone, Ankara has deployed warships in the Eastern Mediterranean and has signed an illegal agreement with the Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus to delineate what it calls continental shelf. Drilling has already begun last September and is being carried out by Houston-based “Noble Energy”, off Cyprus’ south-eastern coast. The government of Cyprus has protested to the UN and the EU Turkey’s moves, saying it has a sovereign right to exploit its natural resources, pointing out that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will benefit from any benefits that may come from oil drilling.
Cyprus has signed an agreement to delineate the Exclusive Economic Zone with Egypt and Israel with a view to exploit any possible natural gas and oil reserves in its EEZ. A similar agreement has been signed with Lebanon but the Lebanese Parliament has not yet ratified it.
Source: Cyprus News Agency