Cyprus is planning a third offshore licensing round for oil and gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Upstream online reported. The government said it would start preparations soon and it has authorized the energy ministry to submit relevant proposals.
Previously, Cyprus has held two licensing rounds. In a first in 2011, a group led by US Noble Energy Inc. discovered Aphrodite natural gas field in deepwater Block 12. In a second licensing round in November 2015, the Cypriot government awarded two blocks to Total SA and three blocks to Eni SPA and Korean Gas Corp, Oil & Gas Journal wrote.
Cyprus has in total 13 offshore licensing blocks, five of which are already licensed to Italy’s Eni, France’s Total and a consortium comprised of Noble, UK-based BG Group, and Israel’s Delek Drilling and Avner.
Turkey, dominating northern Cyprus, has objected to the move claiming that Turkish Cypriots were excluded from the decision-making processes. Cyprus’ attempts to tap its offshore reserves had previously been a source of friction with Ankara, which supports a breakaway of a Turkish Cypriot state in the northern territory of the island. The root cause for the Turkish objection goes back to the 1974 Turkish invasion after a brief Greek Cypriot coup. Turkey does not recognize the Cypriot government conducting the licensing rounds.