Republic of Cyprus to conduct eight drills in eastern Med.

Republic of Cyprus to conduct eight drills in eastern Med.

The Greek Republic of Cyprus plans to conduct eight drilling operations for hydrocarbons in its exclusive economic zone over the next 24 months, Greek daily Ekathimerini reported on Monday.

“Activities in the Cyprus EEZ continue. Eight drillings have been scheduled for the next 24 months. Six exploratory and two confirmatory,” Ekathimerini quoted Cypriot Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis as saying.

The drilling will begin at the latest by early next year, Lakkotrypis said.

While the Greek Cypriot administration and its foreign partners have been enthusiastically preparing to tap the potentially vast hydrocarbon resources in the region, tensions have escalated over competing claims from Turkey.

The Turkish government disputes the Greek Cypriots’ right to use the resources around the island, since it says this infringes on the rights of Turkish Cypriots living in the Turkish-backed administration that controls the northern third of the island.

Additionally, Ankara says part of the EEZ claimed by Nicosia falls on Turkey’s continental shelf, and is therefore Turkey’s by right.

Turkish drilling activities contributed to the tension earlier this month, when a Turkish drillship entered an area in the Greek Cypriot EEZ.