ExxonMobil to drill off coast of Cyprus; Turkey protests
ExxonMobil Senior Vice President Neil Chapman speaks to the media after a meeting with Cyprusâ president Nicos Anastasiades at the presidential palace in capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday Oct. 5, 2018. Chapman says the energy company will go ahead with a search for natural gas off the cost of Cyprus by the end of the year. (Petros Karadjias/Associated Press) October 5 at 10:04 AM
NICOSIA, Cyprus â" ExxonMobil will search for natural gas off the coast of Cyprus by the end of the year, a top executive said Friday, as Turkey renewed warnings against resource exploration in seas where it says it infringes on its rights and those of breakaway Turkish Cypriots.
Senior Vice President Neil Chapman said that explo ratory drilling will begin âsometime in the fourth quarter.â He said ExxonMobil and partner Qatar Petroleum are focused on an area southwest of the Mediterranean island where theyâre licensed to explore.
Chapman said the company hasnât âlooked in any detailâ at an adjacent area, or block, for which the Cypriot government on Thursday invited bids for a drilling license.
The tender elicited another strongly-worded statement by Turkeyâs foreign ministry, saying that Ankara âhas never allowed and will never allowâ any country or company to conduct âunauthorized research activitiesâ inside waters it considers under its own jurisdiction.
Turkey claims that parts of some blocks Cyprus has designated for drilling fall inside its own continental shelf. Turkey also argues that any hydrocarbon exploration ignores the rights of Turkish Cypriots to the ethnically divided island nationâs natural resources.
Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence in the islandâs northern third.
The Cypriot government says any proceeds from gas drilling will be shared fairly among all Cypriot citizens after a peace deal is reached.
The block where ExxonMobil will drill in isnât among the areas Turkey claims.
âAny government issues, boundary disputes, border disputes, thatâs for governments to discuss and for governments to resolve and thatâs not ExxonMobilâs business,â said Chapman.
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