Turkey has been exploring for gas and oil off its south coast. The seismic vessel owned by Turkish energy company TPAO, began explorations in May in the Black sea and since then, has continued into the eastern Mediterranean.
Following that, Turkish Energy Minister, Taner Yildiz has said that the ‘Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa’ seismic vessel may enter Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in three week’s time, should Prime Minister Erdogan give his approval.
“The Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa is drilling off the coast of the Mersin-Iskenderun-Antalya region. It will work there, for three weeks more. Later, we will speak with Prime Minister Erdogan as to whether it will enter Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone. If the prime minister approves, the vessel could enter to the north or south of Cyprus because it has both a technical and political dimension,” Yildiz told private broadcaster A Haber in an interview on Wednesday.
Yildiz said that there was a possibility of buying another vessel should the work load demand it.
The move to enter Cyprus’ EEZ is a highly contentious one. Turkey has vociferously protested South Cyprus’ searches for hydrocarbons off its shores since it claims the off-shore territories for itself. Last year, Turkey began its own onshore exploration for gas and oil in the North, without success and much to the anger of the Greek Cypriot administration.
Turkey has demanded that revenues from any gas or oil finds around Cyprus should be shared between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot community and have often warned that they would make their own drilling operations in the area in the event that the South fails to share its finds with North Cyprus.
It also warned any companies involved in drilling operations that they would be excluded from any future partnerships with Turkey should they involve themselves with energy exploration with South Cyprus.
Earlier this year, Turkey made good this threat by suspending energy projects with Italian giant Eni for its involvement in oil and gas drilling off the South Cyprus coast.
This latest projected move could potentially coincide with the Cyprus peace talks mooted for October.