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A Libyan court has suspended a deal for offshore oil and gas exploration that Libya and Turkey inked last year, a deal that sparked outrage from neighbors Egypt and Greece.
The deal concerned waters that Libya and Turkey have declared to be theirs but that are disputed by Egypt and Greece, Reuters noted in a report on the news that cited an unnamed source. The Libyan government can appeal the ruling, the source also told Reuters.
Greece’s Permanent Representative at the UN, Maria Theofili described the deal as one “violating the sovereign rights of Greece, is a violation of international law and a deliberate escalation that undermines stability in the region.”
The deal, signed in October last year, followed an earlier, security agreement, inked in 2019, that demarcated the maritime border between Libya and Turkey—the same demarcation that angered Egypt and Greece.
"We've signed a memorandum of understanding on exploration for hydrocarbons in Libya's territorial waters and on Libyan soil, by mixed Turkish-Libyan companies," the foreign minister of Turkey, Mevlut Cavusoglu said at the time, as quoted by the AFP.
The official noted, then, that the deal is only between Libya and Turkey, "two sovereign countries -- it's win-win for both, and other countries have no right to interfere".
The eastern Mediterranean was put in the spotlight by a series of large gas discoveries off the coast of Israel in the past decade or so, as well as discoveries in Turkish and Cypriot waters. The potential of the region has become particularly relevant now when Europe is looking for new sources of gas.
At the same time, the events around the deal with Turkey had contributed to the deterioration of the internal political situation in Libya, as Ankara signed its deals with the Government of National Unity—the entity recognized by the UN but not by rival political factions in Libya itself.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com