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Cyprus: Turkey claims share of any natural gas discoveries made off the coast of Cyprus

 natural gas cyprus

A consortium of Italy's Eni and France's TotalEnergies has found more natural gas off Cyprus, boosting Europe's hopes for a clean break from Russian gas. However, the exploration programme is hotly disputed by Turkey. The Turkish Energy Minister, Fatih Donmez, repeated yesterday that "Any natural gas discoveries made off the coast of Cyprus should be shared with the Turkish-occupied north of the island". Turkey invaded Cyprus's northern third in 1974.

An estimated preliminary quantity of between 2-3 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas was found at the Zeus-1 well in an offshore area known as Block 6, the two companies and Cyprus's energy ministry, announced last Wednesday.

It is the third consecutive discovery in Block 6 and "confirms the promising outlook for the area and its development", Eni said.

The east Mediterranean has yielded some of the largest natural gas discoveries in the past decade and last week's discovery comes as the European Union seeks new gas sources after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The consortium in August reported an estimated 2.5 tcf discovery in the Cronos-1 well in Block 6. It also reported a discovery in Calypso-1 in the same block in 2018.

"This is an extremely positive development in view of the energy crisis. It also expedites the prospects for development of Block 6," said energy minister Natasa Pilides.

Cyprus has licensed several blocks rimming its southern coast. It reported its first natural gas discovery in 2011, though it has yet to enter production. The plan is for its first 2011 discovery, Aphrodite, to pipe gas to LNG infrastructure in Egypt.

Among other production options for the country's discoveries is a floating LNG facility to liquefy gas for transfer.

The exploration programme is hotly disputed by Turkey, which invaded Cyprus's northern third in 1974.

Ankara cites overlapping jurisdictions either on its own continental shelf or in waters of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in north Cyprus, which is recognised only by Turkey.

Cyprus's internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government, viewed as representing the whole island, dismisses those claims, according to Reuters.

But Turkey doesn't move backward from its claims. "Any natural gas discoveries made off the coast of Cyprus should be shared with the Turkish-occupied north of the island", Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said on Tuesday, adding that Turkey intends to continue prospecting for hydrocarbon in the Mediterranean.
 
“Even though Block 6 is not in Turkey’s jurisdiction, it would be wrong to view Cyprus as consisting of only one side,” he said, referring to one of the more promising areas of exploration in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.  
 
“Everyone living on the island of Cyprus has the right to benefit from such resources. We consider that any transactions made on the assumption that there is only one party are not fair. It is in this context that our Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in its statements that the rights and interests of our compatriots in northern Cyprus should be protected,” said Donmez, reiterating the same claims made on numerous prior occasions by Ankara.
 
The minister also said that Turkey intends to “continue exploration and drilling activities in the Mediterranean, in our continental shelf, in areas of our jurisdiction.”
 
Donmez made his comments at a news conference where he announced that Turkey will be ready to deliver the first natural gas from its Black Sea field to the national grid by end-March while on Monday, the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced the finding of a new natural gas reserve of 58 billion cubic meters (bcm) in the Black Sea.