Italian energy giant ENI said on Wednesday it was committed to exploring for natural gas offshore Cyprus despite efforts by Turkey to block drilling earlier this year.
"Until now we have invested about 700 million euros in Cyprus so that means we have a strong engagement and commitment toward the country," ENI CEO Claudio Descalzi told reporters after meeting Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
He said the company was committed to exploring all the blocks offshore Cyprus it had a licence for.
In February, a drillship contracted by ENI to explore off the Mediterranean island, abandoned mission, after Turkish warships blocked its path to its target in Block 3 of Cyprus’ Economic Exclusive Zone.
"We have to try, try, try again until you succeed...I don't want to leave my 700 million"
When asked about ENI's next steps, Descalzi said: "Block 3 is there, it's not moving. It's there, there is no problem."
When put to him that Turkey might block ENI again, the executive responded: "We have to try, try, try again until you succeed...I don't want to leave my 700 million."
Cypriot Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis said ENI "is one of our most important partners in Cyprus' EEZ. All you need to see is the number of licenses (to drill) they hold."
He added: "It is an important partner in the Eastern Mediterranean in general, due to its activities in Egypt and very soon in Lebanon, we certainly have a clear picture."
Lakkotrypis said ENI's next drill offshore Cyprus "was a topic of continued discussion".
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned foreign energy companies not to "overstep the mark" in the Mediterranean after Turkey's warships blocked the Italian drilling vessel on February 9.
The standoff over exploiting energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean has further complicated stalled efforts to reunify Cyprus following the collapse of UN-brokered peace talks last year.
Brussels has also censured Turkey for its behaviour towards Nicosia's energy search.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the northern third of the island in response to a Greek military junta-sponsored coup.
Results of exploratory drills in ENI's Calypso field have confirmed the presence of formations similar to that of the nearby giant Zohr gas field in Egypt.
The Italian company estimates the well could hold around 6 to 8 trillion cubic feet of gas.
Talking about the Calypso find Lakkotrypis said: "I think we will be able to have a complete picture in the coming period".
He suggested confirmatory drilling might be needed.
"Now we have the initial estimates, drilling has been successful, but others need to be done to get an accurate conclusion."
Nicosia is also in discussion with Cairo to build a direct submarine natural gas pipeline from Cyprus to an LNG plant in Egypt,
"There is a continuous discussion with colleagues in Egypt on the issue of the pipeline that is being addressed to the European Commission for its comments," said Lakkotrypis.
US energy giant ExxonMobil – with Qatar Petroleum - is scheduled conduct drilling off Cyprus in the second half of 2018.