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Turkey Continues Oil, Gas Drilling In Eastern Mediterranean

Turkey is continuing its oil and gas drilling operations in the eastern Mediterranean, sending yet another ship to drill for hydrocarbons amid a strained dispute over exploration rights that has drawn the attention of the European Union and the United States.

Two Turkish ships continue to drill offshore Cyprus and a third will join them at the end of August, Turkey’s Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said aboard one of the drill ships in comments this week, as carried by Reuters.

Turkey, which recognizes the northern Turkish Cypriot government and doesn’t have diplomatic relations with the internationally recognized government of EU member Cyprus, claims that part of the Cyprus offshore area is under the jurisdiction of Turkish Cypriots or Turkey, and they are entitled to part of the potential oil and gas resources in the area. Turkey doesn’t recognize the agreements that Cyprus has signed with other countries in the Mediterranean over the exclusive maritime zones either.

The ships Fatih and Yavuz continue drilling operations, and the Oruc Reis seismic exploration ship is set to join the work at the end of this month, Reuters quoted Donmez as saying.  

In February this year, Turkey said its exploration ships would soon start drilling for oil and gas offshore the northern part of Cyprus in a move that reignited tension between Turkey, Cyprus, and Greece regarding exploration rights off the eastern Mediterranean island.

Turkey sent its Fatih drilling ship into Cypriot waters, launching drilling operations that have prompted a response from the U.S. and a Greek Cypriot counter-threat, Oilprice.com sources in Istanbul said in May.

Related: Big Oil Profits Lag Despite Rising Production

Turkey appears determined to continue drilling operations despite warnings from the U.S. and the EU, which chastised Turkey last month, saying that “In light of Turkey’s continued and new illegal drilling activities,” the EU suspends talks on an air transport agreement and halts EU-Turkey high-level dialogues. The EU is also cutting assistance to Turkey for 2020 and called on the European Investment Bank (EIB) to review its lending activities in Turkey, especially sovereign-backed lending.

The EU’s conclusions “will in no way affect Turkey's determination to continue its hydrocarbon activities in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in mid-July.

“These conclusions demonstrate how prejudiced and biased the EU is with regard to Cyprus as they make no reference to the Turkish Cypriots, who have equal rights over the natural resources of the Island, in total disregard of their existence in Cyprus,” Turkey says.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on August 07 2019 said:
    By deciding to send a third drilling ship to join two other drilling ships in disputed marine area with Cyprus at the end of August, Turkey is signalling its determination to achieve its objectives in the eastern Mediterranean, namely, to ensure that the Turkish Cypriots get their rightful share of the natural gas wealth, to consolidate its position as the energy hub of the European Union (EU) and to force the Greek Cypriots to accept a settlement in a disputed maritime area overlapping Turkey’s continental shelf and Cyprus’ maritime economic zone.

    It is also ignoring political and financial sanctions announced recently against it by the EU and also threat of military and economic sanctions by the United States.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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