Turkey will start drilling for oil and gas in the Mediterranean before the end of summer, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak said on Friday, according to Anadolu Agency.
Tensions over the exploitation of natural resources believed to lie in the seabed around Cyprus have peaked in recent months. Turkey has sought to block exploration of gas by the Greek Cypriot government off the Mediterranean island with warships and military exercise plans, prompting criticism from Greece, the European Union and the United States.
Turkey says the exploration for potentially large gas reserves off Cyprus should take into account what it says are the rights of Turkish Cypriots in a breakaway state in the northern third of the island that Turkish troops invaded in 1974.
Turkey is alone in recognising the Turkish Cypriot administration, while the rest of the world recognises the Republic of Cyprus as having sovereignty over the whole of the island.
Albayrak today also said the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP) would launch on June 12 with the expected participation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.
TANAP’s initial annual capacity will be 16 billion cubic meters, from which Turkey will withdraw 6 billion cubic meters while the remaining 10 billion cubic meters will be delivered to Europe.