Is Turkey drilling offshore Cyprus on insider data?

Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa sails the Mediterranean again.

Is Turkey drilling offshore Cyprus on insider data? The Cypriot government thinks Turkey got insider info on blocks off Cyprus’ southern coast.

Cypriot Government Spokesperson Kyriacos Koushos, who spoke to Greece’s Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation ERT this week, charged Ankara with having “somehow” obtained information regarding Block 8, which lies north of Egypt’s Zohr and Israel’s Leviathan gas fields.

Previous studies were conducted by energy firms ENI and TOTAL, after the Italian and French companies obtained exploratory licences from the Republic of Cyprus.

“It appears that they got the information collected in the studies,” Koushos said, while clarifying he did not believe the data were shared by the licenced companies.

“I want to make it absolutely clear that there is no insinuation whatsoever that the companies were in any way involved,” Koushos added.

The block in question, listed as number 8 on EEZ maps drawn by the Republic of Cyprus, has also become the target of exploratory drilling activities by Turkey offshore Cyprus.

Ankara says it is acting on behalf of Turkish Cypriots, saying they granted licenses to Turkish companies back in 2011 to carry out drilling in the area in question, south of the divided island.

Greek Cypriots, who insist Turkey is acting illegally in violation of intentional law, have also gained support from the European Union which condemned Turkish drilling around Cyprus.

The EC (the European Union Foreign Affairs Council) however has implemented a set of sanctions, or restrictive measures, against Turkey to limit its ability to drill and explore for oil and gas offshore Cyprus. The US has also condemned Turkish exploration activity in the area. In response, Turkey said it would ignore the restrictions.

Breakaway north Cyprus, which is supported by Turkey, says that any offshore wealth also belongs to them, as partners in the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960.

The island was divided in 1974 after a Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. Countless peacemaking endeavors have failed and offshore resources have increasingly complicated peace negotiations.