Cyprus says Turkish ships obstructing gas drill ship in east Mediterranean

In addition to Cyprus and Turkey, Israel and Lebanon are also at odds over offshore gas exploration and marine boundaries.

By REUTERS
February 11, 2018 13:43
2 minute read.
An offshore natural gas rig in the Mediterranean Sea

An offshore natural gas rig in the Mediterranean Sea. (photo credit: GUSTAV NACARINO / REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

NICOSIA - Cyprus said on Sunday the Turkish military was obstructing a drill rig contracted by Italy's Eni from approaching an area to explore for natural gas, highlighting tensions over offshore resources in the east Mediterranean.

The Saipem 12000 drill ship had been heading from a location south-southwest of Cyprus towards an area southeast of the island when it was stopped by Turkish warships on Friday, Cyprus said.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


There was no immediate comment from Turkey.

Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades said Cyprus was taking the "necessary" steps over the matter, but seemed keen to play down any escalation.

"From our side, our actions reflect the necessity of avoiding anything which could escalate (the situation), without of course overlooking the violation of international law perpetrated by Turkey," Anastasiades told journalists in Nicosia.

In Italy, a spokesperson for state-controlled Eni confirmed the drill ship was stopped on Friday by Turkish military ships.

Using the Saipem 1200, Eni had previously reported a promising gas discovery south-southwest of the island in another location on Feb. 8, inside Cyprus's exclusive economic zone.



Blocking the ship is the latest twist in decades-old feuds and overlapping claims in the eastern Mediterrananean, brought into sharper focus by the discovery of some of the world's largest gas finds in the past decade lurking in the watery deep.

Cyprus is ethnically divided, and Turkey, which supports a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in north Cyprus, says Greek Cypriots have no jurisdiction to explore for natural gas. Greek Cypriots say it is their sovereign right.

Greek Cypriots run Cyprus's internationally recognised government. It has no diplomatic relations with Turkey.

In addition to Cyprus and Turkey, Israel and Lebanon are also at odds over offshore gas exploration and marine boundaries.

The Saipem 12000 had previously been commissioned to drill the Calypso, which lies less than 100 km away from the mammoth Zohr field off Egypt. It had been heading to a maritime block, known as Block 3, where it was to start work on another prospect, dubbed Cuttlefish.

Block 3, which lies far below Cyprus's Karpasia peninsula, the pointed 'panhandle' of the island, lies closer to Syria or Lebanon than Turkey.

In Italy, a spokesperson for Eni said the Saipem 12000 was stopped by Turkish military ships with the notice not to continue because of military activities in the destination area.

"The vessel has prudently executed the orders and will remain in position pending an evolution of the situation," the spokesperson said.

Related Content

Syrian forces of President Bashar Assad are seen on al-Haara hill in Quneitra area, Syria
July 18, 2018
Syrian army pounds city of Nawa, causing casualties, residents say

By REUTERS