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Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism informs EU counterparts about Cyprus' offshore drilling
2011-09-21 10:29:38

Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Praxoulla Antoniadou, briefed her EU counterparts on the ongoing offshore drilling aiming at finding hydrocarbon reserves in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Houston-based ‘Noble Energy’ whose drilling rig is already in place off the island’s southern coast, has begun drilling in Cyprus’ EEZ. The company has a concession to explore for hydrocarbons in an offshore field, south of Cyprus, known as Block 12, or "Aphrodite" block.

The Minister,who took part in the Informal Council of EU Minister of Energy in Poland on September 19 and 20, underlined the positive impact the exploitation of potential reserves will have on energy security in the EU.

She also referred to President Demetris Christofias’ recent statements about the benefits the Turkish Cypriots will reap from the exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves in a reunited Cyprus. Mrs. Antoniadou further noted that Turkey will also benefit from the solution of the Cyprus problem and called on Ankara to contribute towards the solution on the agreed basis of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.

The Minister urged Turkey, which aspires to become an EU member, to fulfill its obligations towards the European Union and respect Cyprus’ sovereign rights and its rights to sign bilateral agreements as well as the rights which derive from the Law of the Sea Convention. She also stated that Cyprus envisages peace and cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean, adding that Turkey can become a peace partner.

Turkey warned that it could deploy warships in the Eastern Mediterranean in response to moves by the Republic of Cyprus to carry out exploratory drilling for natural gas or oil. Ankara also threatened to sign a “bilateral agreement” with the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime if these plans go ahead. Nicosia has pointed out that the Republic is doing nothing more than exercising its sovereign rights as a nation.

Cyprus signed an agreement to delineate the Exclusive Economic Zone with Egypt and Israel with a view to exploit any possible natural gas and oil reserves in its EEZ. A similar agreement has been signed with Lebanon but the Lebanese Parliament has not yet ratified it.

Energy Ministers discussed a Commission proposal on energy supply to the EU and international cooperation. On the sidelines of the Ministerial Council, Mrs. Antoniadou met with Polish Finance Minister Waldemar Pawlak with whom she discussed matters related to EU Trio Presidency which Cyprus, along with Poland and Denmark, is a member of.

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