U.S., British and French companies are frustrating Turkey’s attempts to search for hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean by refusing to sell it the equipment and chemicals needed by research ships, journalist Mustafa Balbay reported for secularist daily Cumhuriyet on Wednesday.
“The cost per day of a foreign (rented) seismic vessel starts as $1 million. If the ship is ours, the daily expenses can come down to $300,000. The reason is that the mechanical and chemical material is very expensive, and part of that is down to the monopoly held by sellers,” Balbay said.
The main companies selling these materials are U.S.-based, though British and French firms are also involved in the trade, he said.
This has left Turkey struggling to source the materials it needs to continue its search for hydrocarbons, since those countries view the Turkish search in areas around Cyprus as illegal.
Ankara disputes the boundaries of Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, some of which it says lies on Turkey’s continental shelf. It also objects to Cypriot efforts to drill around the island, since it says these infringe on the rights of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Four research vessels have been sent by Turkey to explore around the island for hydrocarbon resources. The United States and the European Union, which Cyprus is a member of, have condemned the Turkish activities in the eastern Mediterranean.
“The situation has become very grave: the United States, Britain and France have begun an embargo on Turkey. For nearly two months, Turkey hasn’t been receiving the chemicals and derivatives and engineering services needed for surveying. We say we’ve got the money to buy them, but they refuse,” Balbay said.
The private companies were refusing to sell these goods and services at the behest of their governments, and Turkey had not been able to secure alternatives from China or any other countries, said Balbay.
Companies including U.S. firms Schlumberger, Baker Hughes, Weatherford and Italian firm Geo-log had stopped providing chemicals and services at wells near Cyprus, but were continuing to provide Turkey with the same goods in the Marmara Sea, he said.