Ankara threatens naval action over Cyprus’ Block 12 drill

PanARMENIAN.Net - Tensions are mounting between Cyprus and Turkey over plans to begin oil and gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

The U.S.- based Noble Energy Inc. is due to begin drilling of an exploratory well at Block 12 by the end of September under the terms of its 2008 concession from the Cypriot government.

Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis has said that if the Republic of Cyprus proceeds with its exploration for hydrocarbons, Ankara may send naval vessels to the drilling area.

In statements to Zaman newspaper, Bagis said that when explorations were made in the past, ships from the Turkish Military Fleet were quick to make their way to the area.

“It is for this reason that we built our army and trained our soldiers,” said Bagis, claiming that “it is illegal to explore waters that do not belong to them.”

Bagis also said that Turkey will make use of all its rights under international law and will act accordingly.

“They know that Turkey is serious and that all options are on the table,” he said, according to FG.

In November 2008 the government accused Turkey of harassing two Panamanian-flagged vessels in international waters. One of the ships was part of an exploration mission off the south coast of the island when it was forced to cease operations by a Turkish naval vessel.

Turkey insisted that the exploration was encroaching on its continental shelf, while Cyprus said the incidents occurred in a maritime zone that it has rights over.

The Cyprus government signed a production-sharing contract with U.S.-based Noble Energy to launch exploration activities in a 324,000-hectare economic zone southeast of the island which borders Israeli waters and where massive gas fields were found under the seabed.

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