Eni and TotalEnergies start drilling off Cyprus

Italy’s Eni and France’s TotalEnergies began exploratory drilling of a natural gas well off Cyprus on Monday in the same block where a discovery was made in 2018.

On Monday, the Tungsten Explorer drillship arrived off Cyprus to start drilling in Block 6, where Eni Cyprus and TotalEnergies EP Cyprus BV are co-owners of the project, with Eni as operator, Reuters reports.

The announcement comes as exploration and discovery of natural gas gains critical momentum off Cyprus.

In March, ExxonMobil completed drilling operations on its Glaucus-2 Appraisal Well in block 10, discovered in 2019, showing high-quality gas with in-place resource estimates of 5 to 8 trillion cubic feet of gas. On May 1, Exxon also announced that it had struck

The increased momentum is angering Turkey, which opposes drilling off divided Cyprus, where offshore jurisdiction is disputed between Turkey and Greek Cypriots.

The start of exploratory drilling comes amid a NATO standoff with member Turkey over Finland and Sweden’s impending joining of the military alliance.

While Turkey is withhold approval Finland and Sweden’s membership, demanding concessions over its claims that both countries are harboring “terrorists” in the form of the Kuridstan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its affiliated groups.

Ultimately, Turkey could also demand concessions on Cyprus in exchange for its affirmative vote on NATO membership for Finland and Sweden.

Late last year, after Cyprus awarded drilling rights to an Exxon-Qatar Petroleum joint venture for Block 5, Turkey under threat to block what it calls unauthorized oil and gas exploration in its exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean.

Block 6 is not in Turkey’s claimed EEZ, but announcements of discoveries or drilling plans outside the EEZ in the past have prompted Turkey to act.

In early 2018, after Eni and Total announced the discovery of Calypso in Block 6, Turkish military vessels blocked an Eni drillship which was en route to Block 3, inside the EEZ.

Eni called the discovery of Calypso 1 an “extension of the ‘Zohr like‘play in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Cyprus’, referring to the giant discovery of natural gas off the coast of Egypt.

Also on MondayTurkey has said it could start drilling in the eastern Mediterranean by July pending the arrival of a new drillship.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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