Italian energy firm Eni to drill more for gas deposits off Cyprus coast

Italian energy firm Eni to drill more for gas deposits off Cyprus coast
Eni has received drilling licenses in six areas, or blocks, south of Cyprus. (AP)
Updated 25 April 2018

Italian energy firm Eni to drill more for gas deposits off Cyprus coast

Italian energy firm Eni to drill more for gas deposits off Cyprus coast

NICOSIA, Cyprus: Eni will proceed with more exploratory drilling south of Cyprus over the next 20 months, affirming a “strong engagement and commitment” in a hydrocarbons search off the east Mediterranean island nation, the Italian company’s chief executive said Wednesday.
Claudio Descalzi said that Eni has already invested around €700 million in that search off Cyprus and will carry on exploration until more gas deposits are discovered.
“Clearly in 2018 and 2019 we are going to drill wells and make studies,” Descalzi said after talks with the Cypriot president. “There is a good cooperation and there is a good alliance...with the government and we share the same objectives.”
Eni has already discovered a gas deposit southwest of Cyprus. Descalzi said an appraisal well will need to be drilled to determine the deposit’s size.
He said Eni won’t stop its search for gas in the areas where it has received a license to drill, despite Turkey’s opposition to it.
Eni has received drilling licenses in six areas, or blocks, south of Cyprus. In three of those blocks, it has joined with South Korean company Kogas and in two it has partnered up with France’s Total.
In February, Turkish warships blocked a drillship from reaching a target southeast of Cyprus where Eni was scheduled to drill.
Turkey strongly opposes the gas search because it sees it as a “unilateral” action by the ethnically split island’s Greek Cypriots that ignores the rights of breakaway Turkish Cypriots to the island’s mineral wealth.
Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece.
The Cypriot government says the gas search is its sovereign right and that Turkish Cypriots will get their fair share of any potential proceeds after reunification.
Cyprus Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said ExxonMobil and partners Qatar Petroleum are due to carry out exploratory drilling in the second half of this year.
A deposit discovered by Texas-based Noble Energy in 2011 is estimated to contain more than 4 trillion cubic feet of gas.


Jack Ma video reappearance fails to soothe all investor concerns

Jack Ma video reappearance fails to soothe all investor concerns
Updated 4 min 12 sec ago

Jack Ma video reappearance fails to soothe all investor concerns

Jack Ma video reappearance fails to soothe all investor concerns
  • Ma had not appeared in public since Oct. 24, after he blasted China’s regulatory system
  • Chinese regulators have set about reining in Ma’s financial and e-commerce empires

HONG KONG: Billionaire Jack Ma’s 50-second video reappearance has done little to resolve Alibaba Group’s troubled relationship with regulators that is making some investors hesitate about owning the Chinese e-commerce giant’s stock.

Relief at Ma’s first public appearance added $58 billion in market value on Wednesday as Alibaba’s Hong Kong-listed stock soared, though doubts crept in a day later and the stock fell more than 3 percent as the broader market steadied near two-year highs.

Ma had not appeared in public since Oct. 24, when he blasted China’s regulatory system. That set him on a collision course with officials and led to the suspension of Alibaba fintech affiliate Ant Group’s blockbuster $37 billion IPO.

A source familiar with the matter said Ma cleared his schedule late last year to keep a low profile, prompting discussion at Alibaba about when and how he should reappear to assure investors.

It was decided he should do something that would appear as part of his normal routine, rather than anything overt that could irk the government.

While Ma has stepped down from corporate positions, he retains significant influence over Alibaba and Ant, and the regulatory crackdown on his business empire coupled with his absence was a concern for some investors.

There was skepticism that Ma’s brief reappearance meant all was well with his businesses.

“The coast is not all clear for Alibaba and it is a judgment call whether you believe the company can still thrive in the changing environment,” said Dave Wang, a portfolio manager at Singapore’s Nuvest Captial, which owns Alibaba stock.

“Without some skepticism, the price would be a lot higher,” he said, adding his firm had increased exposure to China and with it Alibaba, which he believes can prosper over the medium to longer term.

Two of the company’s investors in the US who have sold out or reduced positions in Alibaba said they needed more reassurance about the company and the regulatory environment before reconsidering the stock.

“One of our top criteria is leadership and we were investing in Alibaba because I really respect Jack Ma as a leader,” said William Huston, founder and director of institutional services at independent investment advisory firm Bay Street Capital Holdings in Palo Alto, CA, with assets under management of $86 million.

“We all know that just because he showed up ... doesn’t necessarily explain what is going on.”

Huston, whose firm cut its holding in the Chinese firm last year from 8 percent of its portfolio to less than 1 percent, said the halting of the Ant IPO in November had caused uncertainty, and that Alibaba was “not a prudent investment” for it going forward.

David Kotok, chairman and chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisers, Florida, which has about $4 billion in assets, said he held Alibaba last year but also sold as the Ant IPO was pulled.

“When you don’t know what to do in an evolving situation like this you can’t use traditional securities analytics to reach decisions. We are standing aside and watching,” Kotok said.

Chinese regulators have set about reining in Ma’s financial and e-commerce empires since the Ant IPO suspension, which has weighed on its stock that remains below levels prior to the cancelation of the Ant IPO.

“What his actual state is will be completely up to Beijing to reveal to us,” Leland Miller, CEO of US-based consultancy China Beige Book.

“What we do know is whether Jack is running around, Jack is hiding or something else, Alibaba is not in the clear. There is a lot more of the story still to see.”

Some investors are, however, betting on long-term potential for Alibaba in the world’s second-largest economy.

Dennis Dick, a proprietary trader at Bright Trading, who holds Alibaba shares, said he had protected against a potential fall when speculation about Ma’s whereabouts began by buying put options.

He covered those puts earlier in January on a report that Ma was OK and retains a long position in the stock.

“We have been investors for many years ... there’s a very strong team of executives and Alibaba is bigger than just one person,” said a Hong Kong based long-only investor, declining to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media.