Turkey begins first drilling for oil and gas in Mediterranean

Turkey's first drilling vessel, Fatih, has started its first deep drilling in offshore Antalya on the county's southern Mediterranean coast on Tuesday, Anadolu Agency reported.

"Our aim is to open two drilling wells on average a year with the Fatih vessel," Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez said on Tuesday at the launch ceremony. 

Dönmez said that Turkey would also start shallow drilling works with the Fatih vessel in Mersin region as in south Turkey next month.

"There is no security risks [towards the vessel], however, if harassment takes place, our naval forces will do what is necessary," Dönmez said, referring to a Greek frigate that reportedly harassed a Turkish surveying vessel conducting research near Cyprus this month. 

The incident, once again, placed the issue of maritime borders -a historical source of conflict between Turkey and Greece- on the country's agenda last week, as territorial rights for exploring natural gas reserves has refuelled tensions in the eastern Mediterranean this year.

Turkey’s sole purpose is to provide resources under Turkey's sovereignty as a guarantor on the Cyprus Island to its Turkish and Turkish Cypriot citizens, Dönmez said. 

The exploration and drilling of natural gas reserves surrounding Cyprus is a contentious topic between the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey, which is the only country to recognise the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Turkey says Turkish Cypriots should also have a say in gas exploration and a share of any revenues.