ExxonMobil begins drilling as US hails ‘promise’ of East Med


As ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum began exploratory drilling in Block 10 of Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on Friday, the US assistant secretary of state responsible for energy expressed Washington’s “excitement” over the catalytic role the exploitation of natural energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean will have in the region’s development. 

“We are very excited about developments ongoing in the region and we see great promise,” Francis Fannon said after a meeting with Cypriot Energy Minister Georgios Lakkotrypis in Nicosia. 

“We view energy as a catalyst for cooperation and economic development to benefit all the people in the region and Cyprus has a meaningful role to that end,” said Fannon. 

The Cypriot Energy Ministry said that the Stena-Icemax drillship will drill at the Delphyne-1 site – at a depth of nearly 2 kilometers below the seabed. 

The operation is set to last for two months and Nicosia is reportedly confident that a large amount of gas reserves will be found. 

Friday’s drilling operation went ahead despite repeated protestations from Ankara that Nicosia is infringing upon Turkey’s own rights in the area and acting unilaterally without the consent of the Turkish Cypriots. 

Fannon reiterated Washington’s support for Cyprus’s search for energy resources, adding that future financial gains should be shared between Greek and Turkish Cypriots as part of a reunification deal. 

Despite its incendiary rhetoric, Turkey has not caused any practical problems to the drilling operation. Nonetheless, the Turkish Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa seismic exploration vessel remains in the area, moving between blocks 4 and 5 of Cyprus’s EEZ.