US energy official to visit Cyprus trying to prevent Turkish threats

US Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis Fannon will travel to the East Med starting Monday, November 11 and visit Nicosia, Tel Aviv and Cairo, the State Department announced on Friday.

During his trip, Fannon will be meeting with government officials and private sector representatives to discuss energy security and regional cooperation on energy issues.

His trip will highlight the economic opportunities in the energy sector for Eastern Mediterranean gas development and related exports, and encourage discussions on how countries can harness this potential for increased regional stability and economic growth, the announcement said.

Exxon Mobil was awarded, together with Qatar Petroleum the exploration licence in block 10 of Cyprus’ EEZ.

Two weeks ago, a Turkish seismic survey vessel waded into Cyprus’ maritime zone, with reports from Turkey claiming the boat had been harassed en route by a Greek frigate.

The Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa will be conducting surveys in a sea area of 44,000 square kilometres and the Turkish navtex stated that the Barbaros will remain in the area until February 1.

The area reserved by the Turkish navtex is located at the notional boundaries of the respective exclusive zones (EEZs) of Cyprus, Greece and Egypt. Due to political reasons, the three countries have officially not delineated their EEZs with respect to one another.

The reserved area also borders Cyprus’ offshore blocks 4 and 5, parts of which Turkey claims fall within its ‘continental shelf’.

The southeasternmost tip of the area is approximately 100 km from the two sites in block 10 which ExxonMobil has earmarked for drilling.

Local media speculated that Turkey’s intent in deploying the Barbaros was to convey a political message, namely making its presence felt in the area during the same time that ExxonMobil will be drilling exploratory wells for gas in block 10.

Turkey has repeatedly vowed to stop Cyprus from extracting and monetising its offshore gas reserves.

In February this year, Turkish warships prevented a drilling rig from approaching an exploratory well in Cyprus’ block 3 on behalf of Italian energy giant ENI.

Source: Cyprus Mail