Turkish foreign ministry hits back at Cyprus over $9 billion gas deal

Turkey will maintain its position over the rights of Turkish Cypriots and its own rights in the Eastern Mediterranean and will not hesitate to take the necessary steps for this purpose, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement on Friday.

The ministry said the revised contract between the government of Cyprus and the U.S.-based Noble Energy, the Dalek Group of Israel and Royal Dutch Shell was a concrete example of the Greek Cypriots' violation of the rights of the Turkish Cypriots.

The agreement covers the distribution of revenues from natural gas exploitation from the Cyprus’s Aphrodite field in the eastern Mediterranean and the transfer of natural gas by underwater pipeline to Egypt’s Idku liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal.

The Greek Cypriot administration has signed several agreements with Eastern Mediterranean states and international corporations on exploring for and extracting hydrocarbons in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Turkey, the only country to formally recognise the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, disputes the boundaries of the EEZ and says exploitation of the island’s resources by the Greek Cypriot administration infringes on the rights of Turkish Cypriots.

According to Cyprus Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis, the island would earn more than $9 billion in gas revenues over 18 years as a result of the deal with the three energy companies. 

“It is understood that the agreement does not make any reference to the Turkish Cypriots and that Turkish Cypriots are not allotted any share from the revenues,” the ministry said. 

The Cyprus government and international companies cannot ignore that the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state on the north of the island is a co-owner of the Island, according to the Turkish ministry. 

“Therefore, Turkey will maintain its principled and resolute stance to protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriots, as well as its own rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, and will not hesitate to take the necessary steps for this purpose,” the ministry said. 

The Aphrodite gas field is off the southern coast of Cyprus in block 12 of the country's maritime Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Turkey has made claims to parts of blocks 1, 4, 6 and 7 of the Cyprus EEZ. 

Turkey sent a drillship to waters well inside the Cyprus EEZ in early May, while Turkey’s energy minister said this week that a second drillship named would begin drilling off Cyprus by July.

The ministry said Yavuz and Fatih drilling ships would continue activities in the areas where Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus granted licenses to the Turkish Petroleum in 2011.