April 25, 2018 / 4:42 PM / 10 months ago

Eni says staying in Cyprus despite island's standoff with Turkey

ATHENS (Reuters) - Italy’s Eni (ENI.MI) will not relinquish its interests in Cyprus, its CEO said on Wednesday, as an uneasy standoff between Turkey and the Mediterranean island lingered over offshore hydrocarbons resources.

FILE PHOTO: CEO of ENI Claudio Descalzi attends during a meeting at the Eni Congress Center in Rome, Italy, September 20, 2016. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

The Italian state-controlled energy giant had to abandon a scheduled drill for oil and gas south of Cyprus in February because of Turkish military exercises. The broader region has yielded some of the largest natural gas finds worldwide in recent years.

“I just want to remind (sic) that so far we have invested about 700 million euros in Cyprus. That means that there’s strong engagement and commitment towards the country,” Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi told reporters in the Cypriot capital Nicosia.

Eni has secured rights to explore for oil and gas from Cyprus’s internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government.

Turkey has vowed to prevent what it sees as a unilateral move by Greek Cypriots to claim offshore resources as their own, but Cyprus, a member of the EU, has shown no signs of backing down.

The Mediterranean island was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 after a brief Greek-inspired coup. Turkey has no diplomatic relations with Cyprus and considers Nicosia’s attempts to search for gas a unilateral move which violates the rights of Turkish Cypriots, who were partners in a power-sharing government of both communities which crumbled in the 1960s.

Cyprus, backed by the EU, says it is within its rights.

Some of the offshore areas licensed by Cyprus are also claimed for potential research by Turkish Cypriots, who run a breakaway state in northern Cyprus.

Descalzi, who met the Cypriot president and its energy minister on Wednesday, said Eni would not give up its efforts.

“We will try and try again until somebody will be tired,” he said, according to the semi-official Cyprus News Agency.

Writing By Michele Kambas, editing by David Evans

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