Turkey to drill off Karpasia in East Med within a week - energy minister

Turkey is set to begin drilling off Karpasia in the Eastern Mediterranean within a week, the country’s energy minister said on Saturday.

Fatih Dönmez said Turkey’s second drillship, the Yavuz, which was dispatched last month, would begin drilling off Karpasia within the week, state-run Anadolu news agency reported. 

The Yavuz is docked in Mersin in southern Turkey for refuelling and final checks, the Turkish energy minister said, adding that it would begin drilling in the area Turkey has been licensed by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

The move arrives amid soaring tensions between Turkey, Cyprus and Greece over the rich gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean. The Yavuz follows Turkish drill ship, the Fatih, which was dispatched in May and has been anchored west of Cyprus since last month.

Nicosia and Athens disagree with Ankara’s claims of drilling rights in the region. Turkey, the only nation to recognise the TRNC, maintains that attempts by Cyprus to conduct gas exploration are a violation of the rights of the Turkish part of the divided island.

European Union member states and U.S. officials have objected to Turkey's increasing drilling efforts in the region.

The government said this week it has initiated legal proceedings against three companies cooperating with the state-owned Turkish petroleum company TPAO for encroaching on the island’s continental shelf.

Nicosia has started legal proceedings against three companies involved in gas drilling by Turkey in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for encroaching on the island’s continental shelf, and it plans to do the same for Yavuz, the Cyprus Mail reported. 

Turkey, for its part, has accused Nicosia of threatening Turkish Cypriot state due to support it received from the EU and the bloc of not acting honestly when it comes to the divided island.