Stalemate erupting offshore Cyprus

Italian energy company Eni confirms a drillship was stopped by the Turkish military in the Mediterranean Sea.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Feb. 12, 2018 at 6:11 AM
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Feb. 12 (UPI) -- The Turkish government said its counterparts in Cyprus were over-reaching with their efforts to drill for oil and gas reserves in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the government of Cyprus of taking unilateral action with its hydrocarbon exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

"It does so in disregard of the inalienable rights on natural resources of the Turkish Cypriot people, who are the co-owners of the island," the ministry said in a statement Sunday. "Within this context, we have most recently observed that there is an intention to commence activities in Block 3 in the Greek Cypriot administration's so-called exclusive economic zone."

Italian energy company Eni announced it made a gas discovery off the coast of Cyprus last week. It's been working there since 2013 and maintains interests in six license areas, including Block 3, which it says lies within the country's exclusive economic zone.

A spokesperson for Eni told the Cyprus News Agency that Turkish military ships had interfered with drilling plans in the block using the Saipem 12000 drillship.

"Eni can confirm that on Friday afternoon the Saipem 12000 vessel had to stop the transfer journey to a new location as it was stopped by Turkish military ships with the notice not to continue because there would be military activities in the destination area," the official was quoted as saying

The Turkish government said the blame for any situation that could arise from the offshore stalemate rests with Cyprus. The Greek side of the island, it said, is out of line with its unilateral claim to oil and gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean waters.

The island nation is considered frontier energy territory, though the offshore area could hold nearly 12 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves.

Cypriot licensing rounds have been thwarted by geopolitical rows. More than 40 years after a Turkish military invasion, regional differences have presented a series of road blocks for development in the island nation.

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