Sunday, 16 October 2011
Turks step up naval patrols around Cyprus… but so do Russia and France
Imminently joining them will be a Russian battle group led by the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov (pictured) and, indeed, if reports in today’s Cypriot press are to be believed, France will soon be making its naval presence felt in the Eastern Mediterranean.
France’s increased interest is thought to coincide with the news that the Cypriot government will, early next year, put up for auction the rights to explore the other 12 blocks in the 13 blocks that comprise the southern part of Cyprus’ EEZ. Currently, the US firm Noble Energy is conducting exploratory natural gas drilling in block 12, the Aphrodite field. Cypriot media has been reporting intense interest in the auction process from oil and gas giants from Holland, Norway, the UK, the US, China, Russia and France. Indeed, Phileleftheros reported that one scenario is that Russian companies – such as Gazprom and Lukoil – will be awarded the western blocks while French interests – Total S.A. – will be given permission to explore the eastern blocks, which border fields in the Lebanese EEZ, where Total, given France’s influence in Lebanon, will expect to be involved. In fact, Politis reports, the Cyprus government will use entirely geopolitical considerations when it decides the companies it will allocate EEZ exploitation licences to, in a strategy designed to isolate Turkey and neutralise its threats.