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Turkey to start drilling off Greece as planned in deal with Libya

State-owned oil company Turkish Petroleum (IPAO) has submitted an application to Tripoli-based government to start drilling in parts of the eastern Mediterranean outlined in the country’s contentious maritime borders agreement with Libya, Turkey ‘s Energy Minister Fatih Donmez has said.

Donmez said Turkey would start exploring hydrocarbon resources both in the eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea in July.

“Turkey’s work plans continue without any delay,” the minister said during the Turkey Energy Summit held via teleconference on Wendesday

He also said many actors in the eastern Mediterranean region tried to push Turkey out of the game but have withdrawn from the platform, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. Turkey is loyal to its schedule of work, the minister added.

Turkey’s deal signed with the Tripoli government in November of 2019 foresees a large chunk of the Mediterranean, including areas close to Greek islands and the seas that lie on the course of the underwater pipeline EastMed planned by Greece, Israel and Cyprus, as well as Turkish waters.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Donmez said that Turkey’s gas and oil exploration plans will proceed as foreseen by the November 27, 2019 agreement, which seeks to create an exclusive economic zone from Turkey’s southern Mediterranean shore to Libya’s northeast coast.

Cyprus, Egypt and Greece have all condemned the Libyan-Turkish deal as contrary to international law.

Greece’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Maria Theofili, sent a letter to the U.N. in response to Turkey’s submission of the coordinates of its continental shelf in the eastern Mediterranean.”These coordinates unlawfully define the outer limits of Turkey’s claimed continental shelf, in stark violation of the international law of the sea and the sovereign rights of Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Theofili said.

This is the first time Turkey officially applied to receive permission from the Tripoli government to search for oil in the area.

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