Turkey is determined to carry out its oil and gas exploration program in the Eastern Mediterranean despite the many players who have attempted to thwart its plans, Turkey's Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez said on Thursday.
Donmez told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview that Turkey will continue with its business plan in the Mediterranean as scheduled and specified that deep drilling would start in July 2020 using the country’s drillship, Fatih, for the first time in the Black Sea.
Donmez referred to the agreement with Libya signed on Nov. 27 last year on maritime boundaries of countries in the Eastern Mediterranean and confirmed that following this memorandum of understanding, state oil company Turkish Petroleum made its first application for exploration.
The Minister said that as soon as the application process is completed, first seismic research activities would begin.
Turkey, as a guarantor nation for the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC), is currently carrying out hydrocarbon exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean with its drilling vessels, Fatih and Yavuz along with two other seismic vessels that are also operating in the region.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’s annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all failing. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece, and the UK -- came to an end without any progress in 2017 in Switzerland.
Energy giants ENI and Total postponed their proposed gas exploration operations in the Eastern Mediterranean for about a year on May 5, 2020.
The companies notified the Greek Cypriot Administration about their decision to delay their drilling operations until March or April 2021.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, ENI and Total had earlier announced their plan to start exploratory drilling in what they called “block 6” in early February.
- Tenders for renewables
Donmez also divulged updated information on the Renewable Energy Resource Zone (YEKA) tenders.
On Oct. 7, 2019, Donmez announced plans to hold YEKA tenders for solar energy in a new form, known as "mini YEKA", which were due to be held in the first half of 2020.
However, the tender plans were postponed, but Donmez said that a new meeting with industry representatives resulted in an agreement to finalize tenders in the third quarter of this year.
By Murat Temizer