Qatar assures Turkey drilling off Cyprus no threat to Turkish interests

Abdullah Bozkurt

Qatar has provided key ally Turkey assurances that neither the interests of Turkey nor the rights of the Turkish Cypriots will be harmed as a result of drilling by Qatar Petroleum off Cyprus.

According to information obtained by Nordic Monitor, the exploration and production-sharing contract Qatar Petroleum signed along with ExxonMobil with the Greek Cypriot government was brought up during discussions between Turkish and Qatari officials. Turkey made clear that it does not want to see Qatar on the opposite side in a threat to Turkish interests in the eastern Mediterranean.

Qatar gave assurances that it would not be in a position to harm Turkish interests while conducting exploration off Cyprus.

 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani are close allies in the region.

 

Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil signed the contract in 2017 with Greek Cyprus for offshore exploration and production in what was called the Block 10 area, located southwest of Cyprus. ExxonMobil has a 60 percent working interest in the block, which covers an area of 2,572 square kilometers, while Qatar Petroleum has the remaining 40 percent.

Drilling started in 2018, and the partners announced a major discovery in March 2019, with preliminary findings suggesting approximately 5  to 8 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves.

Turkey has dispatched two drilling ships that will conduct natural gas operations off the coast of Cyprus under navy protection.

The United States and the European Union have warned Turkey to not escalate tensions.

The European Union is set to slap Turkey with sanctions in a show of solidarity with member state Cyprus. Turkey announced it would retaliate and increase its activity on the Turkish-Cypriot-controlled part of the island, where a significant number of Turkish troops have been deployed for decades.

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