The Republic of Cyprus has recently begun oil and natural gas exploration and drilling in the eastern Mediterranean.
Last year the Greek Cypriot administration and Israel signed an accord demarcating their maritime borders to facilitate a search for mineral deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean and as a result, signed a deal with U.S.-based Noble Energy to start drilling in a 324,000-hectare economic zone, which has recently begun.
President Dervis Eroglu of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) met the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York on 24 September, and the drilling activities were among the topics discussed. Following the meeting, Eroglu told journalists that they had discussed issues relating to Cypriot reunification as well as recent developments regarding oil and natural gas exploration in the Mediterranean, and that the TRNC presented a new proposal including four topics to Ban. Listing the topics, Eroglu said, "First, let's mutually suspend the oil and natural gas exploration until a comprehensive solution is found to Cyprus problem. Second, if this is not going to happen, then we shall set up an ad-hoc committee shaped by representatives of both peoples. We shall give some authority to the committee over issues such as; exploration, agreements and licenses requiring written approval from both sides, and we will negotiate the ratio of sharing the riches that will be discovered. Third - We shall use the income to finance comprehensive talks and fourth, adoption of this plan shall not harm the positions of either side."
The current tension between Turkey and Cyprus date back to 2003, when the Republic of Cyprus signed a deal with Egypt over drilling rights and continued to expand cooperation in 2007 with Syria, Lebanon and Israel, ignoring the TRNC in the process, Istanbul’s Zaman newspaper reported.
By. Joao Peixe, Deputy Editor OilPrice.com