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Turkish Petroleum Exploration In Cypriot Waters.

Erdogan's cabinet on April 29 approve TPAO's oil and gas exploration in six offshore areas around the island of Cyprus, drawing condemnation from the Cypriot government which lays claim to the territory. The move was seen as an escalation of an on-going row between Turkey and the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus over who has the right to tap petroleum deposits in the eastern Mediterranean.

Approval was given for TPAO to explore in six areas in Cypriot waters to the north, west and east of the island, according to an official April 30 announcement. The official gazette did not specify the exact co-ordinates of the areas, but said they were outside Turkish waters - three areas off Turkey's southern coast of Adana, one off Antalya, one off Hatay and another off the south-western coast of Mugla.

The Cypriot government condemned the announcement, saying the areas were within its own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said: "The decision by Turkey to grant oil licences in areas which come under the EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus are a continuation of her actions which violate international law, and, specifically, the law of the sea. The government of the Republic of Cyprus condemns these actions and the provocations of Turkey and is taking all indicative action to defend the country's sovereign rights". The announcement strained relations with Greece as well.

Turkey's Mugla province is located where the Aegean and Mediterranean seas converge. This is a highly-contested area where dozens of Greek islands lie only several kilometres off the Turkish coast-line.

Tensions re-surfaced last September when Cyprus began drilling in a south-east offshore area adjoining a gas field in Israeli waters reputed to be the world's largest find in the past decade. So far, proven recoverable reserves of natural gas there have been estimated at 30 TCF.

Turkey contests a Cypriot-Israeli accord signed in 2010 to create exclusive economic zones in the waters between them. It argues that Cyprus should not be exploiting natural resources until a settlement is reached between the Cypriot government and a break-away Turkish Cypriot state for the re-unification of the island, and that any revenues should benefit both communities.

Cyprus has said that any money earned from a gas find would be used for the good of both sides regardless of whether a settlement had been reached. However, in retaliation, Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot administration signed their own continental shelf agreement in September, allowing TPAO to start exploration north of the island. TPAO also began recently drilling in an onshore site on the north of the island near the town of Trikomo during a ceremony attended by Turkish Energy Minister Y?ld?z.

Cyprus and its close ally Greece criticised the move. (Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when the Turkish military invaded the island after a short-lived Greek Cypriot coup engineered by the military junta then in power in Athens. Turkey still keeps about 30,000 troops in the north and is the only nation which recognises the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Both sides have made little progress in negotiations since the UN persuaded them to renew talks late in 2011 and the dispute is one of the main stumbling blocks in Turkey's efforts to join the EU). Frustrated by the lack of progress, Turkey has said that, if there was no solution by July 1 when Cyprus takes over the EU presidency, it would suspend dialogue with the presidency until it passes to another EU member-state in 2013.
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Publication:APS Review Oil Market Trends
Geographic Code:4EXCY
Date:May 7, 2012
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