Turkish vessel’s oil exploration work off Cyprus extended, defying Greek objections
NICOSIA - ReutersA Turkish research vessel will continue searching for oil and gas off Cyprus, the Turkish Cypriot authorities have said, extending a simmering standoff over offshore gas reserves between rival sides on the ethnically-split island.
Barbaros, a seismographic research vessel commissioned by Turkey’s state petroleum company TPAO, has been carrying out surveys in an area in the east Mediterranean claimed by Greek Cyprus under international conventions.
The vessel, which had been docked in harbor for the past several days, would resume activities after the Greek Cypriots said they would continue “unilateral activities” in exploring for gas, the Turkish Cypriot Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
The row has already led to Greek Cypriots suspending participation in peace talks with estranged Turkish Cypriots, and on Jan. 5 they said they would not return as long as the vessel remained in the area.
“The Turkish Cypriot side will not remain unresponsive to the unilateral activities carried out by the [Greek Cypriots] which disregard the inherent rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriot people,” it said.
Cyprus and its U.S. partner Noble Energy discovered natural gas off its southern coast in 2011. A consortium comprised of Italy’s ENI and South Korea’s Kogas is now drilling in another area for gas.
The Turkish Cypriot side would continue to take “all necessary steps” to protect its interests. That included drilling in cooperation with Turkey, the Foreign Ministry also said.