Turkey plans to drill for gas off Cyprus in August

Turkey plans to drill for gas off Cyprus in August

Turkey says it expects to resume drilling for gas off the coast of Cyprus in August, potentially sparking a row with Brussels.

The European Union considered imposing sanctions on Turkey in 2020 for investigating contested eastern Mediterranean territory in search of natural gas.

Turkey had been drilling near territory claimed by Greece before it withdrew its research vessel in 2020.

Energy majors are drilling territory around Cyprus amid efforts to diversify gas supplies away from Russia.

ExxonMobil, Qatar Petroleum, Chevron, Italian firm Eni and France’s Total have obtained licenses to drill in nine of the 13 Cypriot offshore blocks. Turkey and Turkish Cyprus have overlapping claims to many of the maritime blocks.

Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay, during a visit to the occupied enclave of Northern Cyprus, said that Turkey would resume drilling in August.

“The hydrocarbon resources of the Mediterranean are not the toys of the Greek Cypriots,” he said, according to broadcaster NTV.

“Our Abdulhamid Han drilling ship is planning to start its operations in the Mediterranean next month.”

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar has proposed a plan for the joint exploration of potential offshore natural gas deposits.

Tatar’s proposal on gas exploration calls for a “cooperation mechanism” that would involve companies with which the Republic of Cyprus has signed deals to drill for hydrocarbons off the island’s southern coastline.

The Greek Cypriot government strongly opposes involving energy companies in any talks with Turkish Cypriots, claiming it would diminish its authority and boost Turkish Cypriot moves for recognition as a separate state.

The eastern Mediterranean is already experiencing considerable tension.

Greece claims Turkey’s military is encroaching around its Aegean Sea islands and Ankara says the Greek armed forces have secretly established bases on the islands in violation of international agreements, including the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.

The treaty between Turkey and the US, Japan, Italy, Britain, France, Yugoslavia, Romania and Greece recognised the independence of Turkey and its borders. Turkey abandoned its claims to Mosul in what is now Iraq and areas of modern Greece in western Thrace and most Aegean islands.

Greek control over the islands near Turkey was internationally recognised.

Under the treaty, a bloody Greek-Turkish exchange of population took place with Orthodox Greeks heading west and Muslim Turks abandoning Greece.


Kyrenia Harbour with the Venetian-era Kyrenia Castle Picture credit: Wikimedia

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