Turkey ‘set for its first drilling by November’
TURKEY will conduct its first ever exploratory drilling in the Mediterranean by the end of this month, Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez has announced, days after Ankara had reacted angrily to a Greek Cypriot decision to invite bids for fresh hydrocarbons exploration in a disputed offshore region.
The inaugural Turkish work will be undertaken by the drillship Fatih, which was now in place off the coast of Antalya, said Mr Dönmez, adding that a number of studies and tests need to be done before drilling could start.
He told an energy summit that Ankara hoped to add a second vessel soon to its hydrocarbons exploration fleet, and that the seismic surveying vessel, Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa, would also continue its work in the region.
“We will protect until the end our resources deriving from international law in the Mediterranean,” he told the summit in Antalya.
The announcement came after Ankara last week issued a warning over an invitation from the South for applications to drill in “block seven”, south-west of the island — an area overlapped by waters claimed by Turkey as part of its Exclusive Economic Zone — saying exploratory activities could only take place with Turkish permission and that Ankara would continue to take “all necessary measures” to “protect its rights”.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also cautioned against “crisis and even conflict” in the region over the issue, and warned: “Those trying to act in this region, while ignoring us, should know that their own existence is put entirely into jeopardy.”
The rising tensions also brought a demand on Wednesday from South Cyprus, Greece and Egypt for Turkey to cease all “illegal activities within the maritime zones of Cyprus” and to refrain from similar actions in the future.
Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, made the statement following their sixth trilateral summit in Elounda, Crete where four memorandums were signed in education, customs, small and medium-sized businesses, and cooperation among investment promotion agencies.
In their official declaration following the meeting, the three leaders reaffirmed their commitment to broaden and deepen their trilateral partnership in various fields of common interest, and to enhance their efforts towards promoting peace, stability, security and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean, based on common values and interests.
They also reviewed common challenges faced in the energy field, the need for diversification of energy resources and routes, the security of energy supply and the need to modernise and develop new energy infrastructure, for further promoting trilateral cooperation in the areas of hydrocarbons, electricity and renewable energy.
Meanwhile four major investment firms have expressed an interest in financing the construction of a pipeline that would transport natural gas from South Cyprus’s as-yet-untapped Aphrodite field — estimated to contain around 130 billion cubic metres of gas — to Egypt, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.