Turkey will not relinquish its legitimate rights to oil and gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez said on Monday.
Speaking at the World Energy Strategies Congress and Exhibition 2019 in Istanbul, Donmez said the Eastern Mediterranean region concerns the whole of Turkey.
"As a nation, we were here yesterday, we are also here today and we will continue to be here tomorrow," he asserted.
Donmez stressed that Turkey would continue its exploration activities in the region, both in license areas assigned by Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) to Turkish Petroleum.
"These explorations reflect Turkey's legitimate position, which is consistent with international law. We will never turn a blind eye to the so-called alliances formed under the enosis [union with Greece] in energy, and which ignores the rights of the TRNC and the Turkish Cypriots," he said, echoing the view of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday who said that Turkey is maintaining a resolute stance in the Eastern Mediterranean and would continue its activities in the region to protect its political and economic interests.
He added that with the country’s first deep-sea drilling ships, Turkey began operations to drill the first wells, which he reiterated would steadfastly continue.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has similar rights to the resources in the area.
From spring onwards when Ankara sent two drilling vessels -- the Fatih and the Yavuz -- to the Eastern Mediterranean, exploration and research work has continued in defense of the rights of Turkey and the TRNC to the resources in the region.
The Turkish-flagged drillship Fatih launched offshore drilling operations this May in an area 75 kilometers (42 nautical miles) off the western coast of the island of Cyprus.
The sixth generation ultra-deepwater drillship, Yavuz, also began operations in August at the Karpaz-1 well located in the Bay of Gazimagusa - also known as Famagusta, in the TRNC.
- Turkey produces 66% of electricity from local, renewable sources
The share of domestic and renewable sources in Turkey's electricity production jumped to 66% in the first seven months of the year compared to 50% one year ago. This helped the country save the import of nearly $1.4 billion worth of energy products, Donmez said.
"We decreased our country's electricity imports by 24% and the share of imported sources in electricity production by 15.4%. We closed this gap by increasing the share of renewable sources in electricity production by 45% and domestic sources by 30%," he explained.
With the 22% increase in Turkey's electricity exports in the first seven months of 2019, Turkey is determined to enhance the share of those sources in its electricity production in line with its 2023 targets, he said.
"If we are successful at doing the things that have never done before in hydrocarbon exploration in our country, then we can produce natural gas at the level that we want, which in turn could change the natural gas usage rate," Donmez explained.
Reporting by Eda Fatma Topcu
Writing by Ebru Sengul