Cyprus was taking all necessary diplomatic steps to resolve peacefully the harassment of ENI’s drillship Saipem 12000 by Turkish warships and avoid an escalation, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Sunday.
Turkey on Tuesday issued a new Navtex, or notice to mariners, effectively extending a blockade that prevents offshore drilling for natural gas by Italian energy firm ENI inside the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The Republic of Cyprus is expected to lodge a protest with the United Nations over moves by Turkey to prevent an Italian vessel from exploring for gas in the eastern Mediterranean.
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Turkey's confrontation with an Italian drilling ship in the eastern Mediterranean Sea could quickly reach crisis proportions. As I noted in an Al-Monitor story Dec. 26, developments were warning of growing tension between Turkey and the Greek Cypriots over newly discovered hydrocarbon reserves south of the island.
On 10 February Turkish warships on manoeuvres in the Mediterranean Sea have blocked the drilling ship - (Saipem 12000 – the same drilling ship that is licensed to drill off Costa Vicentina in Portugal), the SAIPEM 12000 - belonging to the Italian energy firm ENI and prevented it from reaching an area off Cyprus to start searching for gas, according to official government sources.
After finding a promising gas field off Cyprus last month, the drillship Saipem 12000 was scheduled to head for another lease site to the east.
The EU warned Turkey on Monday (12 February) to refrain from any "threat" against Cyprus, after a Turkish vessel prevented an Italian ship from reaching a drilling zone for gas off the Cypriot coast.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Angelino Alfano met his Turkish colleague, Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Kuwait City on the sidelines of the Ministerial Meeting of the Global Coalition against Daesh.