Cyprus to Press Ahead with Offshore Drilling Despite Turkish Objection
EU member Cyprus vowed on Wednesday to keep Turkey’s entry talks on hold as long as Ankara challenges the island’s rights to launch offshore gas drilling, in an escalating row among east Mediterranean neighbours over hydrocarbon reserves.
Rhetoric over ownership of speculated oil and gas deposits has sharpened after a deterioration of relations between Turkey and Israel, the discovery of massive gas fields by Israel and plans by Cyprus to drill as early as next month.
Cyprus, split during a 1974 Turkish invasion after a brief Greek-inspired coup in which Turkey took control of the island’s north, has blocked the opening of several negotiating chapters in Turkey-EU entry talks. One of those is energy.
“The position of Cyprus has not changed. Turkey must make a formal commitment to the EU that it will end its provocations towards the Republic of Cyprus and stop obstructing Cypriot efforts in the field of energy,” said Stefanos Stefanou, the Cypriot government spokesman.
Cyprus is represented in the EU by its internationally-recognised Greek Cypriot government.
Cyprus falls under the radar of the warning since it coincides with Cypriot drilling southeast of the island, a right Turkey contests, and possible cooperation with Israel, whose rights to offshore reserves has also been questioned by Ankara.
Turkish Cypriots have not been part of any Cypriot government since 1963, when there was a constitutional breakdown just three years after independence from Britain.
The row could complicate peace talks launched between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides in 2008, while the drilling coincides with a major push from the United Nations to resolve the Cyprus conflict by mid-2012.
Timing of the drilling itself, however, is unrelated to the Cyprus talks and stipulated in contractual obligations between Cyprus and Noble , the U.S. company poised to launch an exploratory drill in one offshore sector southeast of Cyprus around the beginning of October.
Cypriot President Demetris Christofias on Tuesday denounced what he said were Turkish threats and said the island would press ahead with drilling as its sovereign right.
Noble reported a massive gas discovery off Israel, and close to the Cypriot field, last year.
Posted on September 14, 2011, in Cyprus, Drilling, Middle East, Natural Gas, Turkey and tagged Cyprus, Drilling, Middle East, Natural Gas, News, Objection, Offshore, Offshore drilling, oil, Turkey, Turkish. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.