Cyprus is pushing on with fast-tracking development of its gas sector, kicking off formal talks on 12 and 13 November for final Production Sharing Agreements on four blocks for which it has already selected partners. The negotiations come amid a growing controversy over the selection of the Total-Novatek-Gazprombank consortium for Block 9, that has shone a spotlight on the emerging political agenda behind Nicosia’s energy strategy.

The French-Russian consortium’s bid was the second least competitive out of six bids for Block 9 and its proposed signature bonus was only a fraction of a rival offer from Eni-Kogas on the same block, according to reports by Phileleftheros Daily. The Cypriot newspaper, citing an internal evaluation by the government and its consultant, Beicip-Franlab, reported that the Franco-Russian proposal was also 25% less competitive than the Eni-Kogas offer in terms of potential state revenues. In addition to Block 9, Nicosia chose Total to enter into exclusive discussions on Block 11, and an Eni-Kogas consortium for Blocks 2 and 3. (CONTINUED - 710 WORDS)