US Ambassador affirms legality of Cyprus' actions towards oil exploration
US Ambassador to Cyprus Ronald Schlicher said on Wednesday, after a meeting with Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Antonis Michaelides, that the Republic of Cyprus' actions regarding the first phase of issuing licenses for exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons from the country's exclusive economic zone, was totally legal.
Government Spokesman Vassilis Palmas said on Sunday that the Republic of Cyprus was exercising its sovereign rights and conducting investigations in the context of international law and agreements regarding tenders for the extraction of hydrocarbons, noting that Turkey has not even signed the Law of the Sea.
Mr. Palmas noted that on August 16 the interested parties should submit their tenders for the right to explore and exploit oil reserves, if any are located. “Anybody who submits a bid on 16 August will have the right to extract oil. In the second half of 2008 the second phase would begin, which provides for three-dimensional search, with more precise studies,” he explained.
The Energy Department of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism has expressed satisfaction with the interest shown so far regarding licenses to carry out research for hydrocarbons in Cyprus' exclusive economic zone. The successful applicant will carry out investigative drilling to determine the kind of hydrocarbons available, namely oil or natural gas, as well as their quantity.
The winner will be awarded a three year license which could be extended for up to two years, reaching a total of five, but this would reduce the sea area to be licensed for exploration.