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EU foreign ministers urge new Turkish sanctions over Cyprus drilling

Increase font size  Decrease font size Date:2019-10-16   Views:120
EU foreign ministers agreed Monday that sanctions should be imposed against parties involved in Turkey's campaign of exploration drilling in the gas-rich waters offshore Cyprus.

The latest escalation in tensions between Brussels and Ankara follows the move earlier this month by Turkey's state-owned Turkish Petroleum to position one of its drill ships in a Cypriot-licensed block.
The EU in July already imposed limited sanctions against Turkey, but the EU Council said Monday it wanted to target measures against those "responsible for or involved in the illegal drilling activity of hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean."

"The Council agrees that a framework regime of restrictive measures [...] is put in place, and invites the High Representative [Federica Mogherini] and the [European] Commission to swiftly present proposals to this effect," it said.

On Friday, European Council President Donald Tusk said the EU stood in "full solidarity" with Cyprus over the growingcrisis in the East Mediterranean.

Cyprus is already home to as much as 550 Bcm of gas resources following the Aphrodite, Calypso and Glaucus discoveries of recent years, so the stakes are high as the dispute over maritime rights continues to intensify.

Turkey has previously warned it would increase its presence in the East Mediterranean if EU sanctions were imposed.

Turkish Petroleum in early October sent its drillship, the Yavuz, to an unspecified site in Cyprus' Block 7, which Nicosia says is part of its maritime Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

S&P Global Platts trade flow software cFlow shows the Yavuz as being in the northwestern part of Block 7.

In September, the Cypriot government signed agreements with France's Total and Italy's Eni giving them the license todrill in Block 7.

Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said Friday the company remained committed to the exploration of the Cypriot EEZ and its "contractual commitments" with Cyprus and that it was planning a joint exploration campaign in the first half of 2020 together with Total.

Turkey, though, has warned non-Turkish companies not to drill in the block, saying it has the right to drill in the northwest of Block 7 under its interpretation of maritime law.

It is the first time Turkey has moved into a block already licensed by Cyprus.

The Yavuz entered the Mediterranean in July and in August began drilling the Karpaz-1 in the Bay of Gazimagusa off the east coast of Cyprus, before returning to port on the south coast of Turkey in early September.

Turkey's first drillship, the Fatih, is continuing to drill off the northwest coast of Cyprus, where it has been located since May.

Neither area has been licensed by Cyprus to date.
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