ANKARA, Turkey — A long-running dispute between Turkey and Greek Cyprus over gas exploration in the Mediterranean is escalating, but curiously, Ankara has remained silent on Qatar’s role in Greek Cypriot exploration efforts, raising questions as to what it might expect from its Arab ally in return.
Under a deal with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which only Ankara recognizes, the state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corporation has begun drilling in offshore areas where the TRNC claims economic rights. Some areas are claimed by both sides of the long-divided island, fueling the drilling crisis. Last month, Turkish military ships on maneuvers off Cyprus blocked a drillship chartered by the Italian oil and gas company Eni from reaching an area the Greek Cypriots had slated for drilling. Another problem for Turkey is the exploration plans of a joint venture between US energy giant ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum (QP), which last year acquired a license for Block 10 in the exclusive economic zone the Greek Cypriots have declared.