NICOSIA, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- Natural gas drilling on behalf of an ExxonMobil-Qatar Petroleum consortium in a Cypriot offshore block has been completed, but the companies and the government agreed to announce the results later, Cyprus' Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said on Wednesday.
He added that the drilling ship has already moved from the drilling target called Delphine-1 in Cypriot block 10 to a new target named Glafcos-1 in the same block.
"We hope that the procedure will be completed very soon. In agreement with the companies the results of the two drillings will be jointly made in due time," Lakkotrypis said.
He added that the targets, which have a different geological structure, have been chosen by the consortium itself.
Drilling for natural gas is closely watched by the European Union, following the discovery of gas fields by Israel, Cyprus and Egypt in the eastern Mediterranean, which may become an alternative or a supplementary source of supply to European countries.
Drilling by Exxon-Mobil started on Nov. 16 amid high expectations, as block 10 is close to the giant Egyptian Zohr gas field discovered by Italian ENI.
It was the first drilling in the Cypriot offshore exclusive economic zone.
Turkey, which does not recognize Cyprus as a state, and claims that Cyprus has neither an exclusive economic zone nor a continental shelf, had kept a close watch on previous drilling activities by Cyprus and in one instance the Turkish navy prevented ENI from starting a drilling.
However, in statements to the parliamentary foreign policy committee in Ankara, which may ring a change in policies or tactics, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara "is not against drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean".
"We too are starting drilling off the coast of Cyprus. The stability of the region is important for us. We are following developments closely but the rights of the 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' must be guaranteed and protected".
Turkey occupied part of Cyprus in a 1974 military operation, in response to a coup engineered by the military rulers of Greece at the time, and eventually set up a breakaway state, recognized only by Ankara.