By George Psyllides
Hydrocarbon exploration will continue despite Turkey’s objections, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said on Wednesday, warning that potential harassment was incompatible with the ongoing efforts to reunify the island.
His comments were made from New York as reports said a Turkish warship was shadowing a drillship that will be prospecting for natural gas on behalf Italian-Korean consortium ENI-KOGAS inside Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.
Kasoulides said the situation was being closely watched and diplomatic moves have been made.
“The information we have is that it is watching from a distance,” the minister said, stressing that the exploration activity will continue as planned.
Kasoulides said Cyprus has moved on a diplomatic level towards countries who have influence “to prevent actions that will be unacceptable and incompatible with the continuation of talks.”
Saipem 10000 arrived at the Onasagoras field in block nine on Tuesday to drill its first well.
The ENI-KOGAS have concessions in Blocks 2, 3 and 9 – are contractually obligated to drill four wells, although they could drill up to six, depending on their findings in the interim.
Turkey, which backs the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north, disputes the Republic’s right to a swathe of sea to the island’s south and southeast that are rich in gas reserves.
It has on a number of occasions sent warships to the area.
Cyprus says the waters are part of its own offshore area, where it has awarded research concessions to France’s Total, US company Noble Energy, and South Korea’s Kogas.