The EastMed pipeline agreement to transfer natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean to Italy through Cyprus and Greece which was signed on Thursday 2 January, will not be materialised in the short term because of “the regional financial and technical realities”, Deputy Director General for Energy and Multilateral Transport at the Ministry for Turkish Foreign Affairs Zafer Ates, has said.
Addressing a panel titled “How realistic are the statements for the EastMed project?” organised by the Ankara University of Social Sciences and Turkey’s Energy Strategies and Policies Research Centre, Ates said that according to international law, Turkey’s consent would be required regarding the route and the environmental consequences of “a pipeline which will pass through our maritime areas of jurisdiction”.
Ates claimed that Turkey’s vision in the Eastern Mediterranean had two arms, which were the protection of both its own rights and interests and those of the TRNC. He reiterated the accusation that the Greek Cypriot administration was taking “unilateral steps” in spite of the proposal of the Turkish side providing for the establishment of a joint committee to manage the natural resources in the area.
He said that as of 30 October, 2018 Turkey had completed three drilling operations in the Eastern Mediterranean at three wells – Alanya-1, Finike-1 and Karpaz-1 and added that they continued two drilling operations at the wells they had named Guzelyurt-1 and Mağusa-1. He noted the following:
“In 2020 we provide for carrying out five drilling operations. Our target is to increase to 26 the areas of our drilling operations, including the marine areas licensed by the TRNC”.
Ates also said that when the possibilities regarding natural gas in the Mediterranean were examined, the existing regional differences should also be taken into consideration. “As if it is the only representative of the island, the Greek Cypriot side continues its unilateral activities, acquiring in particular, the support of the EU in the name of solidarity with a member state”, he said.
He added that Egypt, which wanted to become a natural gas centre in the region, also opposed the EastMed pipeline and argued that after the determination of Turkey’s continental shelf with the recent agreement with Libya, it seemed that this pipeline would inevitably pass through the Turkey’s continental shelf.
Ates said that many projects had remained uncompleted in spite of the agreements between governments and added that the signing of the EastMed pipeline agreement could be considered as a “declaration of political intentions”. He argued also that there was no study showing whether or not the project was financially and economically feasible.