Mar 22 2018

Turkey to send own drilling ship to Cyprus

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey’s own drilling ship would soon enter the Mediterranean, potentially complicating energy exploration efforts off Cyprus where Turkish warships have blocked a vessel leased by Italian company Eni and U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil is also due to begin its search for large possible gas deposits.

Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu said Erdoğan made the comments in a speech referring to Cyprus where he pledged to develop energy resources alongside the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north of the island that Turkish troops invaded in 1974. Turkey is alone in recognising the Turkish Cypriot administration, while the rest of the world recognises the Greek Cypriot government of the Republic of Cyprus as having sovereignty over the whole island.

Turkey says deals between international energy companies and the Republic of Cyprus do not recognise the rights of Turkish Cypriots to a share in the potential wealth and in the decision-making process of how the work should proceed. Cyprus hopes gas finds might spur Turkish Cypriots towards talks to reunite the island.

The U.S. Navy has sent an amphibious assault ship to Cyprus as two exploration vessels leased by ExxonMobil are also docked at the island preparing to drill offshore.

Cypriot government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou told the Guardian: “We cannot accept Turkey interfering and creating problems in what, as underlined by the EU, is a sovereign right to exploit our natural wealth.”