Turkish Petroleum will continue seismic exploration in licensed zones in the Mediterranean, says Turkey's Energy Minister.
Turkey's second drillship will be in situ in the country's territorial waters in the Mediterranean around Feb. 20 in anticipation of the go-head to begin exploration, Fatih Donmez, Turkey's energy and natural resources minister said Friday.
Donmez confirmed during an interview on TRT Haber television channel that Turkish Petroleum would continue seismic exploration in its licensed zones in the Mediterranean.
Turkey will continue exploration by making four drillings per year, two of which will be made by the existing Fatih drillship and two with the new vessel that will arrive in the Mediterranean around Feb. 20.
He confirmed that Turkish Petroleum has already drilled 70 wells last year while the private sector drilled around 40 wells, adding that this would increase in 2019 to 130 and 50, respectively.
"As you know we started our deep drilling in October 2018. I think we will get the first result at the beginning of next month or at the end of this month. Of course it's too early to say anything," he explained.
However, he shared that following seismic surveys conducted by the two seismic vessels in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, Turkey made a small gas discovery in the Thrace region, which he said he would detail further on Monday, Feb. 11.
Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, Turkey's first seismic vessel, was bought from Norway in 2013, and has been conducting surveys in the Mediterranean since April 2017.
The MTA Oruc Reis vessel, which was built by Turkish engineers in a local shipyard in Istanbul, has been in operation since late June 2017.
Turkey started its first deep-sea drilling offshore Antalya on the Mediterranean coast on Oct. 30.
Drilling operations that started on Nov. 26 in the shallow waters off Mersin [in southern Turkey] are also ongoing.
He also asserted that Turkey would not give consent to the fait accompli in the area in which the Greek Cypriot administration has undertaken unilateral exploration around the island.
"We say that it is unlawful for the Greek Cypriot to tender oil or natural gas exploration in the areas that it claims to be its own," he said.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.
It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including the collapse of a 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the UK.