The Eastern Mediterranean will face a security threat should Cyprus continue its unilateral operations of offshore oil and gas exploration in the region, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an said in a speech at think tank Chatham House in London on Monday.
Turkey, which recognizes the northern Turkish Cypriot government and doesn’t have diplomatic relations with the internationally recognized government of Cyprus, claims that part of the Cyprus offshore area is under the jurisdiction of Turkish Cypriots or Turkey.
Tensions in the area flared up earlier this year, after Turkish Navy vessels threatened in February to sink a drilling ship that oil major Eni had hired to explore for oil and gas offshore Cyprus—the divided island whose northern part is run by Turkish Cypriots and is recognized only by Turkey.
Weeks before that, Turkey’s Navy had blocked the drilling vessel that Eni had hired. Eni’s chief executive Claudio Descalzi had said that the row is a diplomatic one and out of the company’s control. Descalzi said that Eni would probably move the blocked drilling ship, but would not pull out of its project in Cyprus.
While the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus said that its “goal is to fully explore Cyprus’s hydrocarbon potential,” Turkey claims that the drilling operations are ‘unilateral’ and claims that part of the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus is under Turkish jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, just last week, Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak said that Turkey would begin its first solo oil and gas deepwater drilling in the Mediterranean before the end of this summer.
Turkey has strongly opposed what it describes as “unilateral” drilling offshore the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, and Turkish Cypriots argue that the offshore oil and gas resources of the island should be exploited jointly to ensure equal rights for both parties.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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