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    Turkish Cyprus Offers Hydrocarbon Co-operation


The Turkish republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) has issued a new proposal on joint management of hydrocarbon exploration and development within...

by: David O'Byrne

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Turkish Cyprus Offers Hydrocarbon Co-operation

The Turkish republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) has issued a new proposal on joint management of hydrocarbon exploration and development within the maritime borders of Cyprus.

The TRNC announced in a statement July 13 that Mustafa Akinci, the president of the internationally unrecognised state, had forwarded a proposal to the Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades via the United Nations Special  Representative office in Cyprus.

According to the statement the proposal is for the establishment of a "joint committee" under the supervision of the UN to manage what it described as "the hydrocarbon issue". The statement gave no details of the proposal but a statement by the Turkish foreign ministry expressing strong support said it "concerned the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbon resources around the island of Cyprus", and was aimed at "co-operation including revenue sharing" enabling the two sides to "benefit from hydrocarbon resources simultaneously."

Both Turkey and the TRNC have long criticised Cyprus' decision to go ahead with allocating exploration blocks around the island arguing that no development of the island's resources should take place until an agreement has been reached for reuniting the island which has been divided into two defector states since Turkish troops occupied the northern third of the island in 1974.

The TRNC'S proposal is unlikely to be accepted by Cyprus, which agrees in principle to sharing revenues from any hydrocarbon production but has long refused to involve the TRNC in the process of managing the development of
exploration within the island's maritime borders. 

The TRNC'S move follows the arrival early last week of the Turkish drill ship Yavuz, in an area to the east of the divided island within the Excusive Economic Zone (EEZ) claimed by the Cyprus' government, but also claimed by the TRNC, where Ankara has confirmed it plans to drill for hydrocarbons.

A Turkish energy ministry official confirmed to NGW July 15 that the Yavuz  has yet to begin drilling. But Turkey's state oil company TPAO has had the Fatih drilling within Cyprus' claimed EEZ, in an area over which Turkey also claims sovereignty, since May. It is working around 70 km west of the island. 

Turkey's start of hydrocarbon exploration with the EEZ claimed by  Cyprus has been met by widespread international criticism. The European Union, of which the Republic of Cyprus is a member, last week  responded to the arrival of the Yavuz by describing the planned drilling as "illegal", and confirming that suggesting that the European Commission was planning "appropriate measures " to be taken against Turkey, widely understood to involve some form of sanctions. A final text on the commission's planned response is expected to be approved on July 15.