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    Turkey Launches Second Drill-ship for Cyprus


Turkey is hoping to find commercial quantities of oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean, raising the diplomatic temperature.

by: David O'Byrne

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Natural Gas & LNG News, Europe, Corporate, Exploration & Production, Political, Territorial dispute, News By Country, EU, Cyprus, Turkey

Turkey Launches Second Drill-ship for Cyprus

Turkey's state owned upstream operator TPAO has launched its second deep water drill ship, the Yavuz with the plan for it to drill a first well to the east of Cyprus. Speaking at the launch ceremony Turkish energy minister Fatih Donmez said that the Yavuz will head straight to the bay of Famagusta to the northeast of Cyprus where it will drill the Karpaz-1 well to a depth of 3,300 metres. 

Donmez said that the well was being drilled with the intention of discovering hydrocarbon reserves which can be "of benefit to" Turkey, a process he said was expected to take around 3 months. Donmez did not say what the Yavuz would do after this first well has been drilled. The maritime area to the east of the island is claimed by the Republic of Cyprus as an as yet unallocated part of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

It is also claimed as block E of its EEZ by the internationally unrecognised Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC), which awarded exploration rights to TPAO in 2011. TPAO already has one deep water drill ship operating within Cyprus claimed EEZ, the Fatih which began drilling May 3 at a point 75 km west of the island, within the area that Turkey claims to be part of its continental shelf, in a claim registered with the UN.

Ankara issued TPAO with licences to drill the area in 2009 and 2012. TPAO's seismic survey vessel Barbaros has been conducting seismic surveying offshore from Cyprus for more than 18 months, most recently due south of the island in the region bordering Cyprus' exploration blocks 8 and 12, of Cyprus' EEZ, held by Eni and Noble Energy respectively, areas also claimed by the TRNC as part of its EEZ. 

Barbaros' surveying activities have led to several confrontations between naval vessels belonging to Turkey and Cyprus.
In May both the European Union and the US issued statements criticising the start of drilling by TPAO's Fatih drill ship within Cyprus' EEZ, statements which were in turn criticised by Ankara. 

Turkey does not recognise Cyprus' EEZ, pointing out that maritime delineation has to be concluded by bilateral agreement and cannot be declared unilaterally. 

To date no talks on the matter have been held as Ankara declines to negotiate with the Cypriot government in Nicosia until a settlement has been reached on the division of the island which has been split into two de-facto states since Turkish troops invaded in 1974.