February 16, 2018 / 2:01 PM / a month ago

Turkish blockade of ship off Cyprus is out of Eni's control - CEO

MILAN (Reuters) - A Turkish blockade of a ship hired by Eni (ENI.MI) to drill for gas off the Cyprus coast is a diplomatic issue that is out of the Italian oil company’s hands, Eni’s CEO said on Friday.

Italian oil major Eni's CEO Claudio Descalzi speaks during a news conference to present an agreement on research in alternative fuels and carbon-cutting technologies in Rome, Italy, November 21, 2017. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

Last week, the Saipem 12000 drill ship heading from a location southwest of Cyprus towards an area southeast of the island was stopped by Turkish military ships and told not to continue because of military activities in the destination area.

The ship is still halted, a Saipem (SPMI.MI) spokesman said.

Asked about the incident, Claudio Descalzi said Italy, Europe, France, Cyprus and Turkey were discussing the issue.

“It’s not really under our control,” he told analysts during a conference call on the company’s fourth quarter results.

Descalzi said the exploration well the ship was sailing towards was in Cyprus’s offshore maritime zone, known as the Exclusive Economic Zone.

    “It’s our third well in the area ... We’ve had no problem with the other two,” Descalzi said.

    Turkey, which does not have diplomatic relations with Cyprus, claims that certain areas in Cyprus’s EEZ fall into the jurisdiction of Turkey or that of Turkish Cypriots.

    Reporting by Stephen Jewkes. Editing by Jane Merriman

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