Turkey to step up to award new licenses to TPAO after deal with Libya
Sevil Erkuş – ANKARA
Turkey’s Energy Ministry started to work on granting new licenses for Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) to search for hydrocarbons in the western part of Turkey’s continental shelf in eastern Mediterranean, covering a deal with Libya, a Turkish official has said.
“Our Energy Ministry has already announced working on issuing new exploration and exploitation licenses in eastern Mediterranean in addition to those granted to TP in 2009 and 2012,” Çağatay Erciyes, director general for Bilateral Political and Maritime-Aviation-Border Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, said on Jan. 22, speaking at a panel in Ankara University on the issue of eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey signed two memoranda of understanding in November with the head of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Sarraj, a military pact and a maritime boundary delimitation deal. Turkey has applied to register the deal to the U.N. according to Article 102 of the U.N. Charter.
Asked about whether the registration process has been completed, Erciyes said, “It might take a few months since the average length for completion of registration is around five-six months.”
He noted the seismic vessels Oruç Reis and Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa are awaiting in Antalya for new missions which will be determined according to the work plan of the Energy Ministry.
Reiterating that Turkey initiated talks to seal a maritime delimitation deal with Libya during the rule of Muammar Gaddafi, the talks were interrupted when the Arab Spring hit the North African country, according to the diplomat who once more stressed Turkey is ready for dialogue with the riparian states of eastern Mediterranean, except Greek Cyprus, which Ankara does not officially recognize.
Similar talks were held in the past dating back to 2007 and with the administration of Egypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsi, in order to sign an agreement on the delimitation of maritime jurisdiction areas, he noted.
Turkey is all set to reach new heights in 2020 by protecting its rights, especially in eastern Mediterranean, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said earlier. “We will license those areas and start exploration and drilling in 2020. Firstly, Oruç Reis will carry out seismic activities in the region,” the president said on Jan. 16.
The Turkish drillship Yavuz has begun the third cycle of gas exploration drilling on Jan. 18 in license area “G” in the south of Cyprus, over licenses granted to Turkish Petroleum by the government of Turkish Cyprus in 2011, Erciyes recalled. The area is believed to be rich in hydrocarbon reserves.
The ship is protected by the Turkish navy, he added.
The move comes after two years of seismic research by Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa vessel in the region, the diplomat noted.
Erciyes emphasized the need for a cooperation mechanism between Turkish and Greek Cypriots and a mechanism to safeguard the rights of Turkish Cypriots as the co-owners of the island over the offshore resources. He drew attention to the Turkish Cypriot proposal dated July 13, 2019, which envisages establishing a cooperation and revenue sharing mechanism between Turkish and Greek Cypriots. He underlined that Turkey will continue to protect and advocate the rights of the Turkish Cypriots, and that these rights are guaranteed.