On Thursday, Italian oil company ENI hinted that for the time being they would back out of Cyprus’ offshore block 3, without relinquishing their interests in the area. At the same time, Turkey announced that without a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, it would not allow Greek Cypriots to ‘unilaterally’ exploit oil and gas resources around the island.
ENI’s CEO Claudio Descalzi noted that it was “very likely” that the Saipem 1200 drillship will have to be moved to a new location in the next few days until European, Greek, Cypriot and Turkish diplomacy manage to find a solution. However, he did underline that “we’re used to having potential disputes…we did not pull out of Libya or other countries where there were complicated situations”, reiterating ENI’s involvement in the region.
The decision came after two weeks of impasse in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with Turkish warships, ostensibly participating in military exercises, blocked Saipem’s route and it has since been immobile.
Furthermore, on Thursday evening, on the sidelines of a European Summit, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades met with President of the European Council Donald Tusk, briefing him personally on Turkey’s actions in the Cypriot EEZ.
According to government sources, Tusk shared the opinion that the EU must act and react in the face of the Turkish challenges.
Additionally, Anastasiades met with Greek PM Alexis Tsipras in order to discuss the situation, and he is expected to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Minister of energy, Berat Αlbayrak, stated that Ankara would continue to exert influence in the region as long as the Cyprus issue remained unresolved and noted that Turkey will not allow the creation of a fait accompli in the eastern Mediterranean.