Turkey has objected ExxonMobil’s last week’s start of drilling operations in the Block 10, offshore Cyprus, saying the ‘unilateral’ drilling would not bring peace to the Eastern Mediterranean region, adding it will itself start drilling in “areas licensed by the Turkish Cypriots.”
Both Turkey and the breakaway state of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – recognized only by Turkey – have accused the internationally recognized government of Cyprus of unilaterally conducting hydrocarbon exploration only for the benefit of the Greek side, without taking into consideration the Turkish Cypriots’ interests, an accusation that the official Cypriot government denies.
Cyprus’ president Nicos Anastasiades earlier this year said the government’s “goal is to fully explore Cyprus’s hydrocarbon potential, in the best terms possible, so as to maximize the benefits for all the people of Cyprus,” dismissing the Turkish side’s accusations as unfounded and unjustified. Cyprus has in return accused Turkey of violating its sovereign rights.
Turkey: Exxon’s drilling destabilizing for region
Following ExxonMobil’s (in cooperation with Qatar Petroleum) spud of the Delphyne-1 well in the offshore Block 10 in Cyprus using a Stena Drilling drillship, Turkish Foreign Ministry on Sunday said: “Exploration activities of ExxonMobil off the Island of Cyprus within the so-called “block” 10 upon the license given by the Greek Administration of Southern Cyprus do not contribute to the stability of the region. They may also change certain sensitive balances with regard to the resolution of the problem.”
“We had warned the Greek Cypriot Administration to halt its unilateral hydrocarbon exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean region, stating that the natural resources around the Cyprus Island belong not only to the Greek Cypriot side but to both sides.”
Warning for oil companies
Earlier this year, Turkish warships prevented Italian oil company Eni from moving to an offshore block in Cyprus to carry out drilling operations, spurring the oil company to send the drillship away from Cyprus to be used for drilling in Morocco.
Now, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has issued a warning to oil and gas companies wanting to drill off Cyprus.
“We seize this opportunity to reiterate our warning towards the companies involved in the unilateral exploration and exploitation activities of the Greek Cypriot Administration. We remind that the sharing of the natural resources of the Cyprus Island is related to the essence of the Cyprus issue,” the ministry said on Sunday.
“As in the past, we will continue to take necessary diplomatic and political steps, in coordination with the TRNC, with a view to protecting the rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriot people, as the equal owners of the Island, stemming from international law. We will start activities in the areas licensed by the Turkish Cypriots to the Turkish Petroleum, in addition to our continental shelf,” the ministry said.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s first drillship Fatih-1, earlier this month started in the Mediterranean Sea in the Turkish continental shelf, with the help of the U.S. oilfield services giant Schlumberger. The operation is expected to last 150 days.
Offshore Energy Today Staff