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Italian Eni and French TotalEnergies on Monday began the exploratory drilling of a natural gas well off the coast of Cyprus in the same block where a discovery was made in 2018.
On Monday, the Tungsten Explorer drillship arrived off the coast of Cyprus to begin drilling in Block 6, where Eni Cyprus and TotalEnergies EP Cyprus BV are joint owners of the project, with Eni as the operator, Reuters reports.
The announcement comes as exploration and discovery of natural gas gain critical momentum offshore 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 1st, Exxon also announced it struck
The increased momentum is sparking the ire of Turkey, which opposes drilling offshore divided Cyprus, where offshore jurisdiction is disputed between Turkey and Greek Cypriots.
The exploratory drilling commencement comes amid a NATO standoff with member Turkey over Finland and Sweden’s pending membership in the military alliance.
While Turkey is holding back approval of membership for FInland and Sweden, demanding concessions over its claims that the two countries harbor “terrorists” in the form of the Kuridstan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its affiliated groups.
Ultimately, Turkey could also seek concessions over Cyprus in return for its affirmative vote on NATO membership for Finland and Sweden.
Late last year, after Cyprus awarded drilling rights to an Exxon-Qatar Petroleum JV for Block 5, Turkey threatened to block what it referred to as unauthorized oil and gas exploration in its economic exclusive 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 Turkish action.
In early 2018, after Eni and Total announced the Calypso discovery in Block 6, Turkish military vessels blocked an Eni drill ship that was en route to Block 3, inside the EEZ.
Eni called the Calypso 1 discovery an “extension of the ‘Zohr like’ play in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)”, referring to the giant natural gas discovery offshore Egypt.
Also on Monday, Turkey said it may begin drilling in the eastern Mediterranean by July as it awaits the arrival of a new drill ship.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com