ENERGY: Cyprus protests to the UN over Turkey’s illegal hydrocarbon search

Nicosia has protested to the UN over the illegal hydrocarbon exploration activities conducted by Turkey in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Cyprus.

Cyprus Permanent Representative to the UN, Kornelios Korneliou, addressed a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, informing him of Turkey’s “provocative and unlawful action against the Republic of Cyprus”.

In his letter, which circulated on Tuesday as an official document of the UN, Korneliou said that on 26 January 2019, the Turkish State-owned survey vessel Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa and supporting vessels, accompanied supported by Turkish warships, commenced seismic surveys in the southern continental shelf/EEZ of the Republic of Cyprus.

He noted that the area has purportedly been reserved for seismic surveys by Turkey, via an unauthorized navigational warning, from 26 January to 26 May 2019 and that the surveys are being conducted within exploration blocks 1, 8, 9 and 12, which have been designated for hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation by the Republic of Cyprus.

“In fact, blocks 8 and 9 have been assigned by the Republic of Cyprus to European companies, namely Eni (Italy) and Total (France) for hydrocarbon exploration activities on behalf of Cyprus. Furthermore, the illegal seismic survey area lies, in its entirety, within a continental shelf/EEZ area duly delimited between the relevant States, namely, Cyprus and Egypt, Lebanon and Israel respectively, in full conformity with the international rules of maritime delimitation.

Nicosia argues these surveys constitute a violation by Turkey of the sovereign rights of Cyprus under international law.

“These sovereign rights of Cyprus within its continental shelf/EEZ are exclusive; hence, only the Republic of Cyprus may authorize such exploration activities with respect to the natural resources contained thereinTurkey is under an obligation, among others, to cease those unlawful activities,” Cyprus Permanent Representative noted.

He said illegal exploration activities in the maritime zones of Cyprus without the express authorization of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus constitute a serious criminal offence.

“Any allegation by Turkey that the said surveys have been licensed by the breakaway regime in the north of the island has no standing in international law,” Korneliou said.

“Thus, that particular entity does not and cannot have the rights of a State and, therefore, does not have any legal standing whatsoever to license exploration activities with respect to the natural resources onshore or in the maritime areas of Cyprus.”

Nicosia also perceives threats by Turkey to conduct drilling operations within its maritime zones a grave violation of the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of Cyprus.

“According to the Convention and international case law, drilling operations carried out unilaterally by a third country in another State’s continental shelf/EEZ blatantly infringe international law, as they cause irreparable damage to the seabed and subsoil and, consequently, generate irreversible harm to the sovereign rights of the coastal State.

Source: The Financial Mirror