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Cyprus launches first round of oil exploration licenses
2007-02-15 11:59:02

Nicosia, Feb 15 - The Republic of Cyprus has just launched the 1st Licensing Round Offshore Cyprus for the grant of hydrocarbon exploration and development licenses.

The submissions began today and will end on July 16th. The interested companies will then submit their applications for further exploration in the 11 blocks lying south and southwest of Cyprus towards Egypt.

Experts commissioned by the Cypriot government said the area covers 70,000 sq km in length and the indications are encouraging for finding hydrocarbon reserves at depths ranging from 400 to 3,000 meters.

Cyprus has signed an agreement on the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone with Egypt and Lebanon, based on the internationally accepted principle of the median line and in accordance with the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea.

“These agreements constitute an example of respect to the independence and the sovereignty of states, which is an element of modern political perception. Cyprus expects from the remaining neighbouring countries to show such modern political behaviour and formulate similar agreements,” said Cyprus Minister of Commerce, Industry and Toursim, Antonis Michaelides.

He added that recent geophysical surveys in the region have proven to be successful and that this, in conjunction with the current high oil prices, makes the region a significant exploration target.

“Thus, the government of Cyprus considers that the time has come for Cyprus to embark on hydrocarbon exploration in its exclusive economic zone, an activity in which neighboring countries are engaged for some decades,” he added.

Invited to comment on Turkey’s negative reaction towards Cyprus’ legitimate intentions, Mr. Michaelides said that the presence of Egyptian officials at the ceremony constitutes a signal that Egypt respects the international law and conventions regarding the exploration and exploitation of any reserves.

Meanwhile, Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis has condemned Turkey's decision to also conduct oil exploration in the Mediterranean.

''Even if the date for implementing Turkey's decision to conduct exploration in the Mediterranean remains undetermined, the Cyprus Government considers this decision as illegal,” Mr. Pashiardis said.

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