France’s Total boosts Cypriot gas plan as it eyes Iran exit
French energy company Total says it is looking to expand its search for natural gas off Cyprus’ south coast and seeks to secure another exploratory drilling license, days after warning it could exit Iran over renewed U.S. sanctions there, as reported by The Associated Press.
Stephane Michel, Total’s Middle East exploration chief, said on May 21 that the company has applied for a license to search for hydrocarbons in Block 8, an area south of the Cyprus island where Italian company Eni is already licensed to carry out exploratory drilling.
Total is partners with Eni to search for oil and gas in two other areas off Cyprus. In one of the two, Eni said in February it has discovered a “promising” gas deposit with similar geological features as that of another discovery in Egyptian waters it described as the largest ever in the Mediterranean.
Greek Cyprus’ Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis called Total’s move an “important development” that expands the company’s exploration footprint off Cyprus.
Turkey opposes a unilateral gas search by the Greek Cypriot government, saying that it flouts the rights of Turkish Cypriots to natural resources.
Total’s move also comes just days after it said it would have to withdraw a multi-billion-dollar project in Iran unless it is granted a waiver by U.S. authorities. The group said it cannot afford to be exposed to U.S. sanctions, including the loss of financing by American banks.