By Nuran Erkul Kaya and Muhsin Baris Tiryakioglu
ANTALYA, Turkey (AA) - The sixth generation ultra-deepwater drillship, Yavuz, will start its drilling activities in a new location in the East Mediterranean, known as the so-called seventh block, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Economy and Energy Minister Hasan Tacoy said on Monday.
Speaking at the 10th Turkey Energy Summit in Antalya, Tacoy said that the TRNC remains steadfast in defending its rights to resources in the region, which he said should not be ignored.
Tacoy explained that the Greek Cypriot administration, despite all warnings, is continuing to issue exploration licenses to international companies in blocks in the East Mediterranean that the TRNC also has rights to.
"The latest example of this is when they [Greek Cypriots] issued licenses for the seventh block," Tacoy said, referring to the block area that the Greek Cypriots independently designated.
Following this decision, he said the TRNC issued warnings to avoid such activity that only heightened tensions, and cautioned that the island does not solely belong to them.
In September, the Greek Cypriot administration signed agreements with French Total and Italian ENI for offshore hydrocarbon exploration in the so called license area number 7.
Following the agreements, the Turkish Foreign Ministry slammed the decision saying that "As repeatedly underlined and shared with the international community, a section of the so-called license area number 7 remains within the Turkish continental shelf, which has been registered with the United Nations."
Tacoy said that "despite knowing that they cannot take a step without homeland Turkey, they both neglected the rights of Israel, Greece... and also defied Turkey." However, according to Tacoy, the necessary steps have been taken against this agitation and deadlock policy.
The Greek Cypriot unilaterally declared a total of 13 so-called parcels in the Eastern Mediterranean as its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and allowed international oil and drilling companies to operate in these areas, which are anticipated to hold rich hydrocarbon reserves.
However, the majority of these parcels clash with the EEZ declared by the TRNC, with the Greek Cypriot administration ignoring the fundamental rights of the TRNC to a share of the island’s resources.
On Oct. 5, the Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez announced on Twitter that the Yavuz drilling vessel reached its destination at the Guzelyurt-1 well in the Mediterranean Sea to continue oil and gas exploration.
"Our ship, which has begun location anchorage activities, will start drilling as soon as possible after completing all preparations," Donmez said.
Prior to its second mission, the Yavuz vessel carried out operations at the Karpaz-1 well in the Bay of Gazimagusa, also known as Famagusta, in the TRNC.
Turkey, as a guarantor nation to the TRNC and in support of its rights to East Mediterranean resources, is currently conducting hydrocarbon exploration with its drilling vessels, Fatih and Yavuz along with the country's two other seismic vessels.
- Electricity cable project
Turkey and the TRNC are also developing other energy projects. Tacoy explained that Turkey and the TRNC share a vision for 2025 to build a natural gas pipeline between the two countries. They also plan to build an underwater electricity cable, the energy protocal of which was signed during the World Energy Congress in Istanbul in 2016.
The power line's route will originate from a new transformer station based in Akkuyu in the southern Mersin province and run to the Teknecik transformer station located in the TRNC. However, a final agreement on the project has yet to be signed.
"The joint energy working group between the TRNC and Turkey have put forward important studies on this issue. After finalizing these studies, we expect this project to be realized," Tacoy explained.
* Writing by Ebru Sengul