ExxonMobil makes biggest natural gas discovery in two years off the coast of Cyprus

Cyprus has hailed a significant discovery of natural gas offshore, highlighting the Mediterranean island’s prospective role as an alternative source of energy to Europe.

Amid rising tensions over hydro carbons in the eastern Mediterranean, the US energy giant ExxonMobil announced that deep-water drilling south of the coastal city of Limassol had yielded “encouraging results”, described by Cypriot officials as exceeding all expectations.

The news came as Turkey embarked on its biggest-ever naval exercise in the region, a show of force aimed at reinforcing its own right to energy exploration off the divided island.

“This is the biggest discovery so far in Cyprus’s exclusive economic [maritime] zone and, based on official data, one of the biggest worldwide in the last two years,” the energy minister Georgios Lakkotrypis told a news conference in Nicosia.