The announcement on Thursday that US energy giant ExxonMobil has made a “world-class” discovery in Block 10 of Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), containing 5-8 trillion cubic feet of gas, was widely seen as signifying that the energy game in the Eastern Mediterranean has only just begun and the main players’ next moves will determine their future geopolitical position in the wider region.
According to Cyprus Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, the discovery is the biggest find so far in Cyprus and based on some official data it is one of the biggest finds worldwide in the past two years.”
He added that the find offers confirmation that there is the potential for further hydrocarbon discoveries off the island’s coast. The announcement was made two months after ExxonMobil began operations with its partner Qatar Petroleum in the Glaucos-1 and Delphyne-1 wells in Block 10.
The latest announcement has sparked speculation in Greece and Cyprus over the stance of Turkey, which has raised objections to Nicosia’s search for gas in the island’s EEZ.
Ankara has already said that it will send two drillships to areas off the southern coast to conduct its own exploration.
Observers says Turkey’s “Blue Homeland” air and naval exercise that began on Wednesday in the Black Sea, the Aegean and the Mediterranean is Turkey’s way of making its presence felt in the region.
According to Ankara, blocks 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 in Cyprus’s EEZ lie within Turkey’s continental shelf. Moreover, Turkey set up a naval blockade last year blocking exploration by Italy’s ENI in Block 3.
Ankara’s ambitions in the area have raised concerns in the US as well, with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer on Wednesday urging all sides interested in the goings-on in Cyprus’s EEZ to exercise restraint.