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Four companies bid for oil, gas exploration in Cyprus

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Only four foreign companies submitted their tenders for hydrocarbon exploration in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone before the August 16 deadline, officials announced Thursday afternoon.

“A total of three applications for three different exploration blocks were submitted,” said Efstathios Hamboullas, permanent secretary of Cyprus’ Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism.
One application to explore a single exploration block was submitted by a US company. Two applications for another two blocks were submitted by a consortium comprising of three companies from Norway, the United Arab Emirates and Britain respectively, Hamboullas told a press conference. Hamboullas declined to reveal the names of the bidding companies, but the Houston-based oil company Noble Energy was seen on one of the application envelops.

The first round of licensing was launched in February for 11 blocks, lying south and southwest of Cyprus toward Egypt. Oil deposits in the areas are estimated to be around 8 billion to 10 billion barrels. But the project has drawn opposition from Turkey, who argues that Turkish Cypriots living in the north of the island also have say in the undersea wealth. Ankara also claims its own rights and interests in the region.

Cyprus’ Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis warned last week that Turkey’s demands and threats would hinder Ankara’s European Union accession process. According to Cypriot officials, six international companies have purchased data about the geophysical and seismological surveys and the evaluation of the two-dimensional research conducted in the 11 blocks. They played down the fact that no giant multinationals appeared before the deadline for the first round of bidding, saying they hope that more companies will show up for the second round which will start early next year. Procedure to examine the applications for the first round is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year. (people.com.cn)

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