It came as no surprise that the government invited interested companies to bid for an exploration license at Block 7.
The move by Nicosia to limit participation to firms already present in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone is according to Kathimerini partly aimed at shielding the Exclusive Economic Zone following Turkish challenges in block 3. In February the Turkish Navy blocked the path of a drill ship operated by Italian company ENI.
Instead of the well-known tender procedure for a fourth licensing round, the government chose to activate article 5.6 of the relevant law, thus limiting the suitors of block 7 only to the companies already licensed to operate in the Cypriot EEZ. Energy Minister Lakkotrypis said yesterday that the decision was made for ''geological reasons and interest shown by various companies’’.
However this move is interpreted as a vote of confidence for American Exxon-Mobil, French TOTAL, and Italian ENI.
Preliminary data indicate the existence of hydrocarbon deposits which extend to blocks 6, 8, 10 and 11
French TOTAL is expected to be one of the interested parties for block 7. Total has rights to adjacent blocks 6 and 11, and the French company has communicated to Nicosia of its readines to expand presence in Cyprus.
Exxon-Mobil is also reportedly interested. The company will start drilling in the promising block 10 in the next few weeks. Asked about the possibility of a TOTAL-Exxon cooperation the Minister of Energy said, ''I do not want to prejudge what the companies will do’’.
The role of "Calypso"
In spite of the fact that the official announcement by the Minister of Energy was lean; the decision was made due to the geological structures of block 7. Preliminary data indicate the existence of hydrocarbon deposits which extend to blocks 6, 8, 10 and 11. "For block 7 there are very specific geological reasons that have to do with the discovery of the Calypso field", Lakkotrypis said. Calypso is the name given to block 6.
The application deadline is in one month and the procedure to be followed would be the same as the previous licencing rounds.