Gas standoff in East Mediterranean as Turkey confronts Eni drillship

Tensions between Turkey and Cyprus over ownership of offshore hydrocarbon resources in the Mediterranean flared up last week when  Turkish warships blocked the route of Italian oil major Eni’s Saipem 12000  6th generation ultra deepwater drillship  as it sailed towards the  Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The captain of the drillship  ignored instructions to sail away despite Turkish claims that the area had been secured for military exercises. Nicosia subsequently informed Rome of the incident, with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades accusing Turkey of violating international law and vowing to  would take “necessary steps,” to remedy the situation, although he stressed he was not looking to escalate the situation.
Turkey, which does not have diplomatic relations with Cyprus and does not recognise the EEZ, claims that certain areas of the zone fall under the jurisdiction of Turkey or Turkish Cyprus. “Turkey will not allow any parties to neglect or ignore Turkish Cyprus and its citizens and will exercise its rights bestowed by internationally acknowledged laws,” Turkey’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Berat Albayrak said.

The Saipem 1200 incident comes just days after Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the Greek newspaper Kathimerini  that Turkey intends to explore the East Mediterranean for oil and gas and that it considers the  2013 Egyptian-Cypriot maritime border demarcation agreement that allows exploration for gas in East Mediterranean’s economic zone to be invalid.
While relations between Nicosia and Ankara have been in deep freeze since Turkey’s 1974 invasion of Cyprus and its subsequent partition, tensions in the East Mediterranean have been mounting since the discovery three years ago of the massive Zohr field in Egyptian territorial waters, which raised the prospect of further major reserves closer to Cyprus. That possibility became closer to  a reality last week when Eni and France’s Total announced that they had discovered a promising natural gas field off Cyprus with geological similarities to Zohr.
A  spokesperson for Eni  said that the Saipem 12000 would remain would remain stationary until the issue was resolved.

Source: dailysabah