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ENERGY > Turkish-Greek Cypriot disputes to grow next year

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İpek Yezdani İpek Yezdani ipek.yezdani@hurriyet.com.tr

Probable new natural gas exploration in the Mediterranean basin of Cyprus in 2013 is likely to lead to disputes between Turkey and Greek Cyprus, the director of the PRIO Research Center in Southern Cyprus has said.

“There is a big possibility of new exploration activities in 2013 in [Greek] Cyprus in the offshore blocks 2,3,9 and 11, which are contiguous to block 12,” said Harry Tzimitras, also an expert on the gas and energy issues of the island, during a recent interview with the Hürriyet Daily News. “In these cases, the chance of future disputes is larger than the chance of conciliation with Turkey,” he said.

Greek Cyprus approved licenses a couple of weeks ago for exploratory drilling to exploit offshore oil and gas deposits in four blocks off its shores.

The U.S. firm Noble Energy had already been awarded Block 12 and announced last year that it had discovered gas reserves of up to 8 trillion cubic feet (226.5 billion cubic meters), which has an estimated value of 100 billion euros ($129 billion).

Turkey has recently warned that energy companies cooperating with the Greek Cypriot offshore drilling plans will be banned from participating in new oil and gas projects in Turkey.

Tzimitras said the Greek Cypriot government will receive around 200 million euros as an advance payment by the companies in the consortium by the end of 2012.

“The government in [Greek] Cyprus is desperately trying not to sign the bailout memorandum with the EU Troika. So this is one of the ultimate aims of the offshore drilling plans,” Tzimitras said.

He also said oil and gas in the Mediterranean basin of Cyprus could also serve as an enabler for the reconciliation between Greek Cypriots and Turkey. “When the companies extract the gas, the cheapest thing to bring it to the market would be a pipeline through Turkey. According to estimates, the cost of the construction of a pipeline from Cyprus to Turkey would be only around 1.5 to 2 billion euros.”

November/19/2012

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