Eni will not drill off Cyprus if warships in the area

Italian energy firm Eni said Thursday it would not drill off Cyprus if a row with Turkey over natural gas deposits saw either side send warships.

“I am not worried… (but) if someone turns up with warships, I won’t drill wells,” Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

“I certainly don’t want to start wars for wells,” he told journalists on the sidelines of an Eni event in Rome.

The comments came as a Turkish drillship, the Yavuz, is currently inside block 7 of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, which Ankara does not recognize.

The block was licenced to Eni and France’s Total in an agreement signed in Nicosia last month.

In February 2018, Turkish warships prevented Eni from drilling in another concession it owns in the Cypriot EEZ.

Cyprus has accused Turkey of a “severe escalation” of violations of its sovereign rights.

Turkey has already drilled wells in waters to the east and west of the island, triggering strong protests from Nicosia and the European Union in recent months, including EU sanctions.

It says it is protecting the rights of the Turkish Cypriots but also has its own claims in the region.