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Egypt Greece and South Cyprus call halt to Turkish seismic survey

30 October 2014

The Greek, Egyptian and [South] Cyprus governments have urged Turkey on Wednesday to stop its seismic surveys in [South] Cyprus’ EEZ, declaring the action was illegal, Reuters reports.

The foreign ministers of Egypt, Greece and Cyprus met in Nicosia yesterday to prepare for a summit between the three nations next month, and condemned Turkey’s actions.

Turkey however, does not recognise Cyprus, nor its right to unilaterally declare an EEZ. Its incursion into [South] Cyprus’ EEZ prompted the suspension of the Cyprus negotiations.

“The ministers deplored the recent illegal actions perpetrated within Cyprus’s EEZ, as well as the unauthorised seismic operations being conducted therein,” they said in a statement.

“We are hopeful all activity in the eastern Mediterranean will conform withinternational regulations … understandings which are based on good neighbourly relations,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri told reporters, in the company of his Cypriot and Greek counterparts.

Cyprus discovered an estimated 5 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas in one offshore field in late 2011 and has licensed U.S. energy firm Noble, Italy’s ENI and France’s Total to search for gas.

Egypt, which lies south of Cyprus, has signed a deal with the Nicosia government recognising sea boundaries between the two countries for the purpose of commercial exploitation. Cyprus has also signed a similar deal with Israel.

Last week BG Egypt, a subsidiary of global energy company BG, said it had held talks with Cypriot officials on the potential of Cyprus supplying Egypt with gas.

Cyprus has become particularly keen to develop offshore gas reserves as a potential source of revenue since it was compelled to seek an international financial bailout in early 2013.

Turkey has in the past, protested at the South’s unilateral decision to explore for hydrocarbons.

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