Second Turkish Drillship Spuds Well Off Cyprus
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez announced Wednesday that a second state-owned drillship has begun drilling a gas exploration well off the coast of Cyprus, despite protests from the Cypriot government and warnings from the European Union.
Donmez personally visited the drillship Yavuz on Tuesday, according to state outlet Anadolu Agency, and he said that the rig has already drilled to a depth of about 1,700 meters. The vessel's campaign is expected to last about three months, Donmez said.
Turkish Petroleum's first drillship, the Fatih, is conducting a similar campaign off Cyprus' west coast. The state company also operates one seismic vessel in the Eastern Mediterranean, and Donmez said that a second will be joining it this month.
Donmez reiterated the Turkish view that Northern Cyprus and Cyprus should share in revenues from the island's offshore E&P activity, as laid out in a proposal from the Turkish-backed government of Northern Cyprus. The internationally-recognized Cypriot government in Nicosia, which has operated its own offshore leasing program for several years, has rejected this appeal.
"Once more I would like to say that the gathering of the two sides with the aim of reevaluation of this proposal will be for the benefit of all sides. And once more I would like to say that we are ready to support this meeting as a guarantor country," Donmez said.
The government of Cyprus vigorously opposes Turkey's drilling activity on the Cypriot shelf. In June, it issued arrest warrants for multiple crewmembers aboard the Fatih for their involvement in the drilling campaign. Turkey's Foreign Ministry denounced the warrants as "null and void" and threatened to carry out a "necessary response" if any of the Fatih's crewmembers were arrested.
Turkey also opposes Cyprus' drillng activity in Cypriot waters. In February 2018, Turkish warships physically blocked the Eni-chartered Italian drillship Saipem 12000 from transiting to Cypriot Lease Block 3, which is located off the island's east coast. Eni purchased the exploration rights to the block from Cyprus, but the area is also claimed by Northern Cyprus, with support from Turkey.