NICOSIA – Under the threat of facing Turkish warships if they venture into waters claimed by Turkey, the US energy giant ExxonMobil and its partner Qatar Petroleum began drilling operations off the coast of Cyprus.
It is in block 10 of the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) parts of which have been seized by Turkey which is defying soft European Union sanctions and warned other vessels to steer clear.
The US State Department earlier said ExxonMobil wouldn’t venture into the territory claimed by Turkey whose warships previously had scared off an Italian enegy research vessel with no response from Italy.
According to reports, the consortium will drill an appraisal well in the Glafcos gas find inside block 10 which is estimated to carry a reservoir between 5 and 8 trillion cubic feet with results expected in the first quarter of 2022, said Kathimerini.
That came as the EU’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell, who has been near-deferential, said Turkey should nevertheless sign the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) it doesn’t recognize unless invoking to its advantage.
Responding to a question by Greek Member of the European Parliament Manolis Kefalogiannis, Borrell said that being a candidate for EU membership, Turkey must harmonize its national legislation with the bloc’s “acquis communautaire” – the laws, regulations and court decisions by which all members agreed to abide.
The EU has signed and ratified UNCLOS but Turkey doesn’t abide by other block policies, and refuses to recognize Cyprus – a member – and bars its ships and planes with no sanctions.
Borrell said that a deal Turkey signed with Libya in 2019 dividing the seas between them, unaccepted by the UN or or any other country, violates the rights of third countries but the EU still won’t do anything about it.