Equitable sharing of hydrocarbons exploitation benefits essential in Cyprus - analysis

Greek Cyprus should take measures to demonstrate convincingly how the benefits from hydrocarbons exploitation will be shared equitably between Greek and Turkish Cypriots as the ExxonMobil has started drilling in block 10, wrote Charles Ellinas, in an article he penned for the Cyprus Mail.

All indications from the seismic data point to a potential for a substantial discovery for Exxon’s Stena Icemax drilling rig, Ellinas said, pointing out that the reservoir lies in carbonate formations with similarities to past discoveries.

The drilling Block 10 in offshore Greek Cyprus is set to take place amid warnings from Ankara that it will not accept attempts to seize natural resources that exclude Turkey and the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Exploratory drilling in the gas-rich eastern Mediterranean off Cyprus - split in 1974 after a Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup - is a contentious topic between the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey, which is the only country to recognise the breakaway northern part of the island.

‘’As expected, Turkey has not intervened to physically threaten or stop ExxonMobil’s drilling activities. These are proceeding unhindered. However, this does not alter Turkey’s position that it will take measures to ‘protect’ what it sees as its own interests and those of the Turkish Cypriots,’’ the article underlined.

Pointing out that as Block 10 is concerned, neither Turkey nor the Turkish Cypriots have made any direct claims, Ellinas said it is unlikely that Turkey will intervene directly.

However, he added, it is also unlikely that Ankara will remain a spectator.

UN Security Council, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, referring to Cyprus’ hydrocarbons, said ‘’all efforts should be made to avoid unnecessary escalations in the coming months and to engage in dialogue on this issue,” the article stressed.

To this end, Cyprus should take measures to demonstrate convincingly how the benefits from hydrocarbons exploitation will be shared equitably between Greek and Turkish Cypriots by way of finalising and enacting into law the Cyprus sovereign wealth fund – named as the ‘National Investment Fund,’ Ellinas pointed out.

Such a fund will be ‘equitably shared’ and benefit directly the Greek and Turkish Cypriot people, he said.

There is also a need to find ways to reduce regional geopolitical risk, as LNG projects involve multi-billion dollar investments the returns from which take decades to materialise, the article highlighted.

https://cyprus-mail.com/2018/11/18/optimism-over-gas-drilling-but-its-the-sharing-that-counts/

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