Exxon drillship arrives in Block 10 off Cyprus - Cyprus Mail

ExxonMobil’s Stena Icemax drillship has arrived on location in Cyprus’ offshore block 10 and is preparing to bore down into the seabed, the Cyprus Mail quoted Greek Cypriot Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis on Monday.

The drillship arrives amid repeated objections from Turkey in the face of Cypriot plans to exploit potential offshore gas reserves in the Mediterranean.

Turkish warships  in February twice blocked the course of an exploration vessel leased by Italian energy firm Eni off Cyprus, claiming the 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.

Two exploratory wells are to be carried out by ExxonMobil in the coming weeks, Lakkotrypis said while speaking to the press after giving MPs a briefing on the overall state of play in the hydrocarbons space.

“Cyprus’ energy programme as it has been designed is being implemented, it is going forward and will continue without fanfare,” the minister said, adding, “That is why I, as well as my colleague the foreign minister, urge you [the media] to exercise a little restraint in what we say day-to-day about the drill. We have got off to a good start, on schedule, and we are hoping it all goes well because this is an important drill in our overall energy plans.”

Lakkotrypis also briefed lawmakers on the other planned drills in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), including in block 7, as well as the latest developments of the Aphrodite reservoir in block 12, the Cyprus Mail reported.

The Stena Icemax drillship’s automatic identification system (AIS) appears to have been switched off, it said, in what the Cypriot newspaper believes is the first time that a drillship’s location tracking has been disabled while operating off the island.

The Turkish government has repeatedly warned Greek Cyprus against taking “unilateral steps” in exploring and developing hydrocarbons in the region without including Turkish Cypriots with whom Ankara signed a ‘continental shelf delineation agreement’ in 2001.