Photo: Richard Drew, Associated Press
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) – ExxonMobil has made the third-largest gas discovery in the world in the last two years compared to Cyprus, the government said on Thursday.
Energy Minister Georgios Lakkotrypis said the discovery of 5.8 billion cubic meters of gas gave hope for further discoveries in the waters of the island nation of the eastern Mediterranean , who wants to become an alternative source of energy for Europe.
ExxonMobil Vice President Tristan Aspray said there was potential for additional discoveries for ExxonMobil and its partners, Qatar Petroleum.
"We would be interested in other opportunities off Cyprus and the entire Eastern Mediterranean," said Aspray.
He added that ExxonMobil would be drilling additional wells probably next year.
This is the third discovery of gas in the waters that Cyprus has authorized to carry out exploratory drilling, in particular with the Italian companies Eni and Total, in France.
A year ago, Eni announced the discovery of a potentially large gas deposit in an area adjacent to the one where ExxonMobil made the discovery.
In 2011, Noble Energy, based in Texas, discovered a deposit in the southeastern waters of Cyprus, which contains 4.5 billion cubic feet of gas.
But Turkey strongly opposes any gas search off Cyprus, claiming that it is violating its rights, as well as those of Turkish Cypriots in the northern separatist region of the island.
Turkey, which does not recognize Cyprus as a state, claims areas of Cyprus' exclusive offshore economic zone and states that it will soon proceed with drilling works.
Aspray said his company was aware of the region's "geopolitical tensions," but remained focused on its work in waters outside Turkey's claimed area.
This story has been corrected to say that the discovered deposit contains about 5 to 8 trillion cubic feet of gas, instead of 5 to 8 trillion feet.