Turkey threatens naval action if Cyprus drills

Noble Energy and Delek are due to begin drilling for gas at Block 12 later this month.

The Cypriot media reports that Turkey is threatening to attack Cyprus if it allows drilling of an offshore exploratory well at Block 12. Greece has already responded by telling Turkey to "act responsibly". Cyprus has been a member of the EU since 2004.

Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE: NBL) is due to begin drilling at Block 12 by the end of September under the terms of its 2008 concession from the Cypriot government. Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG), controlled by Yitzhak Tshuva, has an option to acquire 30% of the concession. The two companies are also partners in Tamar, Leviathan, and other Israeli offshore licenses.

Turkish EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis told Turkish media that when explorations were made in the past, ships from the Turkish Military Fleet were quick to make their way to the area. “It is for this reason that we built our army and trained our soldiers,” said Bagis, claiming that “it is illegal to explore waters that do not belong to them."

Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, after a military coup on the island, and subsequently set up the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, which controls 37% of the island, but is recognized by no one except for Ankara.

In December 2010, Turkey reacted furiously after Israel and Cyprus signed an agreement demarcating the border of their maritime exclusive economic zones. Leviathan is on the Israeli side of the border and Block 12 is on the Cypriot side. Cyprus's Ambassador told "Globes" that he appreciated Israel's refusal to be deterred by Turkey's warnings.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 6, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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