Greek Cypriot President Demetris Christofias said on Thursday the east Mediterranean island nation could open up more gas exploration drilling within a year, a move that likely further antagonizes Turkey.
"This is the plan. The plan is to open new (exploration blocks). We have only one now," Christofias told Reuters after speaking to the Greek Cypriot community at New York University.
"I could not assure you when exactly," he said, adding when pressed that it could occur in the next 12 months.
"Maybe before. I don't exclude this," he said.
Earlier Christofias told the United Nations General Assembly that Greek Cyprus would be "willing" to share the benefits of revenue from any gas find with Turkish Cypriots even before a peace deal on the ethnically divided island is reached.
"It is for the benefit of Turkish Cypriots as well," he said, reiterating a point made in his UN speech on Thursday.
Turkey has repeatedly called on Greek Cyprus to postpone its gas exploration, saying the Greek side has no right for offshore energy search, while the island remains split, thus leaving the Turkish north out of the picture.
Greek Cyprus is working with Noble Energy to explore the area that sits adjacent to the massive natural gas field claimed by Israel on the southeast coast of the island.
Turkey signed a deal with the Turkish Cypriot state on Wednesday in the hopes of paving the way for offshore gas exploration.
Noble Energy says that the eastern Mediterranean gas finds have been the world's biggest deepwater gas discoveries in the last decade, with a total of at least 25 tcf of gross mean resources.
Turkey says that any Cypriot natural resources have to be shared by the whole island. Cypriot leaders have been negotiating to reunify the island since 2008.
AgenciesLast Mod: 23 Eylül 2011, 12:26