ExxonMobil to start drilling off coast of Cyprus - New Zealand Herald

A top executive of ExxonMobil announced on Friday that the company would start searching for natural gas off the coast of Cyprus by the end of the year, despite Turkey’s objections and warnings, the New Zealand Herald reported

Senior Vice President Neil Chapman said that exploratory drilling would begin "sometime in the fourth quarter" and be focused on an area southwest of the Mediterranean island where the company and its partner Qatar Petroleum were licensed to explore.

"Any government issues, boundary disputes, border disputes, that's for governments to discuss and for governments to resolve and that's not ExxonMobil's business," said Chapman.

The Republic of Cyprus on Thursday invited companies to bid on a new energy exploration zone off the coast of Cyprus, known as block seven. 

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry reacted angrily to the Greek Cypriot government’s invitation saying that it violated the rights of both Turkish Cypriots and Turkey. 

Turkey has repeatedly objected to Cypriot plans to exploit potential offshore gas reserves in the Mediterranean and Turkish warships in February twice blocked the course of an exploration vessel leased by Italian energy firm Eni off Cyprus.

Turkey says a breakaway Turkish-Cypriot enclave in the north of the island, which is only recognised by Ankara, has a right to a share in the reserves, while the Cypriot government says any proceeds from gas drilling will be shared fairly after a peace deal is established. 

Turkey also claims that parts of some blocks Cyprus has designated for drilling fall inside its continental shelf, the New Zealand Herald said.

Turkey does not recognise the Greek-Cypriot government that controls the southern part of the island, and is the only country to recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.