Photo: Richard Drew, Associated Press
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) – ExxonMobil has made the world's third largest gas discovery in the last two years outside Cyprus, said the country's government Thursday
Energy Minister Georgios Lakkotrypis said The discovery of an estimated 5-8 billiard cubic meters of gas gives hope for more discoveries in the waters off the East of the Eastern Mediterranean, which want to become an alternative energy source for Europe.
ExxonMobil Vice President Tristan Aspray said there is potential for more discoveries for ExxonMobil and partners Qatar Petroleum.
"We would be interested in other opportunities outside Cyprus and indeed the entire eastern Mediterranean," said Aspray.
He said that ExxonMobil will perform additional drilling most likely next year.
This is the third gas discovery in waters that Cyprus has licensed for exploratory drilling to companies, including Italy's Eni and Franc e. Total.
A year ago, Eni announced the discovery of a potentially large gas deposit in an area next to where ExxonMobil has found the discovery.
In 2011, Texas-based Noble Energy discovered a deposit in waters southeast of Cyprus estimated to contain 4.5 trillion cubic meters of gas.
But Turkey is heavily subject to any gas search from Cyprus, saying it violates its rights – as well as the Turkish Cypriot in the island's northern neighborhood.
Turkey, which does not recognize Cyprus as a state, claims parts of Cyprus' official exclusive economic zone and says it will carry out its own drilling soon.
Aspray said his firm is aware of the region's "geopolitical tensions" but remains focused on its work in waters beyond the territory of Turkey as its own.
This story has been corrected to say that the discovered deposit contains an estimated 5-8 trillion cubic meters of gas, instead of 5-8 trillion feet of gas.