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Cyprus Mail: Oil permits may be issued by year end

CYPRUS COULD issue licences for oil and gas exploration in the east Mediterranean by the end of this year, Foreign Minister George Lillikas said yesterday.

“I believe that before the end of the year the first licences for exploration will be issued,” Cypriot foreign minister George Lillikas said during an official visit to Warsaw.

Cypriots say provisional data suggests there are oil and gas deposits in a sea area separating the island from Egypt to its south and Lebanon to its east. The government plans to open 11 areas, or “blocks” rimming the island’s south for exploration.

Turkey has in the past warned exploration plans could stoke tensions in the region. A Turkish oil company, TPAO, announced plans to also start hydrocarbon exploration in the east Mediterranean in early May.

At present oil majors can purchase seismic data and two-dimensional templates of the Mediterranean sea bed from Cyprus. The data will be available for purchase until the end of August, at which time companies can apply for exploration permits.

“I believe that around the end of September, maybe beginning of October, the government will start analysing these offers,” Lillikas said.

“I hope the results will be promising and positive, so we will be able later to contribute by energy supplies to the energy security of the European Union.”

Part of the area open for exploration abuts Egypt’s NEMED block, where Royal Dutch Shell is extracting natural gas.

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