Turkey sent a ship to begin drilling for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean on Wednesday, two weeks after the latest tension between Turkey and Greece over jurisdictions and over hydrocarbon exploration in the area.
Turkish drilling ship Fatih will start drilling at the Alanya-1 borehole, 100 kilometers (62 miles) off the southern Turkish province of Antalya, Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said on Tuesday.
“We don’t have an eye on others’ resources, our only issue is to present to our people the riches within our territory,”Reuters quoted Donmez as saying.
The Turkish drilling site is at some distance from the disputed waters with Greece and with Cyprus, both of which Turkey has admonished in recent weeks over disputes with maritime borders and drilling for oil and gas, respectively.
At the beginning of October, ExxonMobil said that it planned to begin drilling for oil and gas offshore Cyprus sometime this quarter, while Turkey warned against exploration offshore Cyprus in what it says is ignoring the rights of the Turkish Cypriot people.
Turkey, which recognizes the northern Turkish Cypriot government and doesn’t have diplomatic relations with the internationally recognized government of Cyprus, claims that part of the Cyprus offshore area falls under the jurisdiction of Turkish Cypriots or Turkey.
Then two weeks ago, Greece’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the “Turkish Antalya station issued an illegal NAVTEX to the effect that the ship ‘Barbaros’ would be conducting seismic research on a segment of the Greek continental shelf.”
“This new provocation on the part of Turkey, demonstrates that it continues to act in a way that causes tension in the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean,” Greece said on October 17.
To this, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry replied on October 18 that “The insistence of Greece on its unrealistic claims will only be counter-productive and harmful as regards bilateral relations and regional stability.”
“Turkey will continue to exercise its sovereign rights and jurisdiction stemming from international law over its continental shelf. In this regard, we recommend Greece to abstain from the acts that would cause an escalation in the region.”