Italy’s ENI changes drilling plans in east Mediterranean – Kathimerini

Italian energy company Eni will not begin its drilling activities in a disputed block of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but instead will start drilling in blocks more likely to yield results, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported on Tuesday.

The French-Italian consortium will start conducting drilling activities in blocks 6 and 8 of the EEZ, and leave block 7, whose sovereignty Turkey disputes, to the end of 2020 or early 2021, it said.

The potentially rich hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean have placed Turkey at odds with Cyprus and Greece. Ankara says the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot republic in the north of the island, which only it recognises, 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.

Cyprus has divided its EEZ into 13 blocks and Turkey has made claims to parts of blocks 1, 4, 6 and 7, where it’s Yavuz drillship has been stationed over the last few weeks under the protection of a Turkish warship.

ENI’s decision raised questions as to whether the consortium’s plans are the result of Turkey’s opposition to drilling activities in Block 7, Kathimerini said.

ENI in October said it would not drill off Cyprus if that could risk starting a war with Turkey.

In 2018, the Turkish navy twice blocked survey vessels leased by ENI off Cyprus.