Cypriot Commerce and Energy Minister Neoklis Sylikiotis announced on 7 January that the outgoing AKEL-led government of President Demetris Christofias is in the process of conducting “intensive negotiations” in order to finalize exploration and production agreements with Eni/Kogas and Total for blocks 2, 3, 9, 10 & 11 in Cyprus’ offshore Exclusive Economic Zone. He said that the talks with the Eni/Kogas consortium for Blocks 2, 3, and 9 are progressing rapidly and could be completed by the end of this week.

The goal is for completion “in a matter of weeks,” and the government is pushing a draft law establishing a National Hydrocarbons Fund through the parliament, apparently in order to have the fund in place before the signature bonuses for the five offshore blocks are paid. A further indication of the urgency is the fact that late last month, after Mr Sylikiotis reversed the initial decision to award Block 9 to the Total, Novatek and Gazprombank consortium, concession talks were immediately reopened with Eni/Kogas. (CONTINUED - 264 WORDS)