* Gov’t concludes negotiations with selected bidders in 3rd round *
The government has successfully concluded negotiations with the selected bidders for the offshore hydrocarbon exploration licences of blocks 6, 8 and 10 in the Cyprus exclusive economic zone (ΕΕΖ), Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis announced on Tuesday.
On March 17, the Cabinet will discuss the proposals regarding the contracts agreed with the selected companies and consortia, so that they can be approved and “we can proceed with the next stage which is the signing of the contracts,” Lakkotrypis said.
The minister said that immediate revenues from the licensing of the three blocks amounts to EUR 103.5 mln.
Earlier, Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides had said that “everything is proceeding as planned and there are absolutely no changes in the (Republic’s) strategy.”
Ahead of the announcement of conclusion of the negotiations with the three bidding ventures, the spokesman had said in response to threats by Turkey over exploration rights in the Cyprus EEZ, that “there will be announcements as regards the implementation of the energy plans of the Republic.”
The successful bidders are the consortium of Italian ENI and French Total for Block 6, ENI for Block 8 and the consortium of ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum for Block 10.
Lakkotrypis said that this is a very important development for Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean in general because it reinforces the prospect of hydrocarbons in the area, especially if one looks at the research projects that have been proposed and agreed. He said that the companies are quite optimistic as to the prospects of the eastern Mediterranean, and more specifically the Cyprus EEZ.
Invited to say when the first explorations can begin, he said that “we are discussing various dates, some within 2017, however we need to be cautious as everything depends on the companies themselves and their targets.”
He added that at first the companies need to review the seismic studies of the area, but that some had expressed interest to begin drilling within 2017.
As regards Block 11, Lakkotrypis said that the Cabinet approved Total’s request to assign 50% of its rights to ENI. He said that this is a very important development because it strengthens the joint venture in Block 11, which is adjacent to the mammoth finds in the Zohr gasfield within the neighbouring Egyptian EEZ.
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