Second Turkish drillship Yavuz to start drilling off Cyprus in a week, minister says

Turkey's Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez and the other officials pose in front of the Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz at Dilovası port in the northwestern Kocaeli province, Turkey, June 20, 2019. (Reuters Photo)

A second Turkish ship will begin drilling for oil and gas off the Karpas Peninsula to the northeast of the island of Cyprus next week, an official said Saturday.

"God willing we will be starting the first drilling within a week," Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez was quoted as saying by the private NTV broadcaster.

The ship called Yavuz will be exploring off the peninsula of Karpasia, the minister added.

Turkey's first drilling vessel, Fatih, has already started searching for gas and oil in waters considered part of Cyprus's exclusive economic zone.

The sixth-generation drillship Yavuz was bought by Turkish Petroleum for $262.5 million and has a length of 229 meters and weighs 21,283 gross tons. Yavuz came to a shipyard in Yalova in early March.

After Turkey sent the Fatih to the west of the island of Cyprus to start drilling a second well, some Western countries - including the U.S., France and Greece expressed their objections. But Turkey repetitively highlighted that its vessel conducts operations in its own exclusive economic zone, which is registered with the United Nations in 2004 and other states should respect the rights of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots.

Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area. The unilaterally declared exclusive economic zone of the Greek Cypriot administration violates part of Turkey's shelf, particularly in Blocks 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus' annexation by Greece, Ankara intervened as a guarantor power. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded. The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries

Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. ended in 2017 in Switzerland.

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