Who profits from gas drilling off Cyprus?
Last week the US oil and gas company Exxon Mobil began exploratory drilling for natural gas in an area designated "Block 10" located around 150 kilometres off the south-west coast of Cyprus. Both the Cypriots and Turkey have laid claim to the area. Commentators urge great caution in order to prevent the issue from having a detrimental impact on the negotiations in the Cyprus conflict.
Everyone must have a piece of the pie
The revenues from gas extraction must be distributed fairly between Turkish and Greek Cypriots, Charles Ellinas of the Atlantic Council's Global Energy Center urges in Cyprus Mail:
“One way to do this is by finalising and enacting into law the Cyprus sovereign wealth fund - named as the 'National Investment Fund'. Even though this has been under discussion since 2013, it is still awaiting finalisation. This should undergo a final review by a reputable international institution, such as IMF or the World Bank, to ensure that it incorporates all hydrocarbon revenues, it is transparent. … In other words that it is a fund that will be 'equitably shared' and benefit directly the Greek and Turkish Cypriot people.”
A blessing or a curse?
We should wait and see what the drilling reveals, Politis recommends:
“The interesting question for all participants is whether Exxon's drilling will awaken expectations and have an impact influence on the potential resumption of dialogue on the Cyprus question. ... The fact that both the company and the US now seem to have secured guarantees that Turkey won't hinder the Stena IceMax's work seems to indicate that there's no reason to panic. ... The coming weeks will tell whether the natural gas is a blessing or a curse for Cyprus. The countdown has already begun.”