Italy's Eni decides to end drilling off Cyprus over conflict concerns

Chief executive of Italian energy company Eni said on Thursday the company would not drill off Cyprus at an expense of starting a war with Turkey, France 24 reported.

"I certainly don't want to start wars for wells," France 24 quoted Claudio Descalzi as saying on the sidelines of an Eni event in Rome.

In the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey is at odds with Cyprus and Greece over the potentially rich hydrocarbon reserves in the region. Ankara says the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot enclave 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.

At the moment, two Turkish drillships, accompanied by navy vessels, are anchored in areas around Cyprus, where they are exploring for hydrocarbons in defiance on their neighbours and the European Union. 

"I am not worried... (but) if someone turns up with warships, I won't drill wells," Descalzi said.

The Turkish Navy last year twice blocked survey vessels leased by ENI off Cyprus.