Noble Energy Drilling Rig Arrives - Army, Reserves on Alert
Noble Energy's drilling rig has arrived at Block 12 and the army and national reserves have been put on alert in case of an attack from Turkey, says a report by Sigmalive.com citing an un-named source.
The company will use a base in Limassol for helicopter shuttles to-and-from the platform, which will be installed on Block 12 - now dubbed Aphrodite - to start exploring for undersea gas reserves.
According to the report, Israel is monitoring Turkish movements in the area, and Turkey's navy is on alert to be mobilised at any time. Information from the Greek defence ministry says that Turkey's navy has orders to move towards Block 4 in Cyprus' territorial waters, just off Paphos.
Tensions continue in the region, with most people expecting Turkey to make good on its threats to send its navy to the area to try and prevent offshore gas exploration. In August, Turkey renewed its veiled threats towards Cyprus on the issue, with a statement from its foreign ministry saying that "the Greek Cypriot Administration does not represent in law or in fact the Turkish Cypriots and Cyprus as a whole."
Bilateral agreements between Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon and Israel are "unilateral actions" which could derail settlement talks, give rise to new conflicts and increase tensions in the region, according to the statement.
"These unlawful acts create tension in the region, compromise and prejudge the Turkish Cypriots’ existing and inherent equal rights over the natural resources of the island," said Turkey's foreign ministry.
But these threats have not stopped Noble Energy which has an exploratory license for Block 12 in Cyprus' exclusive economic zone that experts say could contain 10 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. During a recent visit to Cyprus, a Noble Energy official said that natural gas could be delivered from Block 12 by 2014. Block 12 neighbors Israel's natural gas field Leviathan which is considered to be one of the Mediterranean's largest undersea gas reserves. The first well drilled on Leviathan alone contained 16 trillion cubic feet of gas.
Yesterday, President Christofias said that gas exploration would begin soon, rejecting the Turkish-Cypriot position that hydrocarbon exploration should only begin after a solution to the Cyprus problem. Meanwhile, Turkey and the 'TRNC' have annouced their intention to sign a maritime border deal between north Cyprus and Turkey, said Turkey earlier today.
A delegation from Turkey is due in north Cyprus on September 16th, made up of representatives from its energy ministry, foreign ministry and petroleum industry, including the General Directorate of Petroleum Affairs (PİGM), Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO), said a statement from Ankara.