Turkey Set to Begin Oil and Gas Drilling Off Cyprus

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday that Turkey will begin drilling for oil and gas near Cyprus in the coming days, according to a report by the state-owned news agency Anadolu.

Ankara’s move could stoke tensions with neighboring Cyprus and Greece, according to Reuters. Turkey and the internationally-recognized Greek Cypriot government have overlapping claims of jurisdiction for offshore oil and gas research and exploitation in the eastern Mediterranean.

“In the coming days we will start drilling with two ships around Cyprus,” Cavusoglu was quoted as saying in a speech to a business conference in western Turkey’s Aydin province.

“Let those who come to the region from far away, and their companies, see that nothing can be done in that region without us. Nothing at all can be done in the Mediterranean without Turkey, we will not allow that,” Cavusoglu declared.

Turkey launched its first drillship, called “Fatih,” in October of 2018 to drill for hydrocarbons off the coast of Turkey’s southern Antalya province. It said a second ship that it had purchased would operate in the Black Sea, but it was diverted to the Cyprus area.

Occupied Northern Cyprus, which is supported by Turkey, claims that any wealth derived from offshore drilling also belongs to them, as partners in the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960.