September 27, 2019 / 9:01 AM / 24 days ago

Turkish drill ship has completed operations off Cyprus coast -minister

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - One of Turkey’s two drill ships in the eastern Mediterranean has completed operations in Karpaz, off the northeastern coast of Cyprus, Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said on Friday.

EU member Cyprus and Turkey have argued for years regarding the ownership of fossil fuels in the eastern Mediterranean, where Ankara says Turkish Cypriots are entitled to a share of the resources. Ankara has dispatched two drill ships and an exploration vessel to the region.

In an interview with broadcaster NTV, Donmez said the ship, Yavuz, is currently in port in Turkey’s Mediterranean coastal province of Mersin and will depart for a new location in coming weeks.

“The Yavuz ship has finished drilling in Karpaz. The data there is being evaluated,” he said. “The ship is waiting in Mersin’s Tasucu port for preparations, supply and checks for the next operation.”

The second ship, Fatih, is continuing operations west of Cyprus, Donmez said.

Natural gas discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean in the past decade have made the region a viable alternative energy source for Europe, but also exposed long-simmering disputes between neighbours jostling for rights over resources.

Turkey rejects agreements the internationally recognised Cypriot government has reached with other Mediterranean states on maritime economic zones. Ankara’s operations in the region have drawn criticism from its Western allies.

Cyprus was divided in 1974 after a Turkish invasion triggered by a brief, Greek-inspired coup. Several peacemaking efforts have failed and the discovery of offshore resources in the eastern Mediterranean has complicated the negotiations.

Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Dominic Evans

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