A moratorium in hydrocarbon activities in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus, due to Cyprus settlement efforts or ongoing Turkish provocations, would signal “the end of all energy prospects for the country” Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry, Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, said on Monday. The Minister delivered his remarks during a press conference, in Nicosia, while taking stock of the work of his Ministry from 2013 until 2020, as his term comes to an end this Friday.
Referring to the decision of energy companies to postpone their activities in the EEZ of Cyprus, due to the pandemic, the outgoing Minister said that they informed Nicosia in writing about their decision to resume activities once this is made possible again, in March-April 2021.
Asked to comment whether the Republic of Cyprus could unilaterally apply a drilling moratorium in the EEZ, in order to defuse tension with Turkey or to give impetus to Cyprus-settlement talks, taking into account its contractual obligations, the Minister said that “the answer is clearly no.”
Replying to another question, about the response of the EU, of various countries and companies, in relation to Turkish provocations in the EEZ, Lakkotrypis said that Cyprus’ efforts on all levels, from the President of Cyprus to the Foreign and Energy Ministers, is to align the country’s interests with that of the EU.
He also referred to the plans of energy giants, who are active in Cyprus’ EEZ, to proceed with another 5-8 exploratory/appraisal wells in 2021, after postponing their plans for 2020. Referring to the second appraisal well in the “Aphrodite” reservoir, in EEZ block 12, the Minister said that it is planned for 2021. If the company is having different thoughts, it should come forward and speak with the Ministry, in order for them to be evaluated, Lakkotrypis said.
During the press conference, the outgoing Minister took stock of the Ministry’s work under his leadership between 2013 and 2020 in a number of areas of competence, including tourism, trade, and energy-related developments, particularly in the area of renewable energy sources. Lakkotrypis thanked the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, for his support during his term, and wished every success to Natasa Pilides, who succeeds him at the Ministry on Friday.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey has ignored numerous UN resolutions calling for the withdrawal of the Turkish troops and respect of the integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus.
Turkish drill ship “Yavuz” arrived last April in the exclusive economic zone (ΕΕΖ) of Cyprus, after Ankara announced another attempt to drill a well in blocks licensed to European companies. This is the 6th time Turkey attempts to drill within the EEZ and continental shelf of the Republic of Cyprus, this time in an area that covers part of exploration blocks 6 and 7, which have been licensed to ENI and TOTAL.
In a statement on May 15, EU Foreign Ministers deplored the fact that Turkey has not yet responded to EU calls to cease such activities and reiterated their call on Ankara to show restraint, refrain from such actions, and respect the sovereignty and sovereign rights of Cyprus, in accordance with international law. EU Foreign Ministers also reaffirmed previous Council and European Council conclusions, notably those of June 2019 and October 2019 on Turkey’s continued illegal activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.