Turkey launches oil and gas drilling in N Cyprus
Officials, workers pose for cameras at a ceremony in Gazimagusa as Turkish and Turksih Cypriot flags wave behind them. AA photoThe Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) has started drilling for gas and oil in North Cyprus’ Gazimagusa, with a ceremony attended by high ranking officials including Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız, Turkish Cypriot President Dervis Eroğlu and Prime Minister İrsen Küçük.
“We will explore our own oil and gas. I have to admit that only one in a thousand drilling explorations become successful. This particular well may fail us, but it is part of a wider exploration effort that will also provide us with a detailed underground map of northern Cyprus,” Yıldız said at the ceremony.
Turkey has received some “indirect” offers related to the drilling project, Yıdız added. “But currently the counterpart of the Greek Cypriot party is Turkish Cyprus. We are not considering technical work free from political developments.”
Eroğlu said for his part that right of his people would be defended all the way. “We are living another historic day. Another ring with highly strategic importance adds to the chain of brotherhood, the unity of hearts and cooperation,” Anatoila news agency quoted him as saying.
“Energy issues are a reason for war across the world, but they will be a reason for peace on this island,” Yıldız said.
However, the news provoked a swift response from the government of Cyprus, which labeled the action as illegal. “Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership are violating the law by going ahead with drilling in the occupied are of Famagusta … The drilling being carried out by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership demonstrates a lack of willingness on their part to achieve a solution to the Cyprus problem,” Agence France-Presse quoted Greek Cypriot government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou as saying. “The [Greek Cypriot] government is making the appropriate representations and demarche against this new illegal act.”
The drilling came after an agreement struck between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Eroğlu in September, when TPAO was granted a license to drill in line with a continental shelf delineation accord. TPAO has said it plans to drill as deep as 3,000 meters at Turkyurdu-1, with the exploration estimated to continue for up to six months.
The Turkish move comes in response to Greek Cypriot drills for resources in the eastern Mediterranean seabed launched last year, which Turkey says abuses the rights of northern Cypriots to the same resources.
The U.S. Noble Energy, commissioned by Greek Cyprus, announced last year the discovery of a giant deposit that could contain up to 224 billion cubic meters of gas in one of the blocks within Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.