NUEVO DIGITAL - Internacional
@JavierMonjas - 05/11/2012

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The Eastern Mediterranean’s potential gas bonanza continued to raise diplomatic tension as Turkey issued a stern warning to those firms willing to partner with the Republic of Cyprus to reach offshore reserves. According to a Hürriyet Daily News report, Turkey’s energy minister Taner Yıldız suggested that companies pursuing exploration agreements in Cyprus could be frozen out future energy partnerships with Ankara.

Coming shortly after a series of new agreements were announced between Cyprus and a number of international firms, the warning took specific issue with Italy’s Eni for their involvement. Eni currently holds a stake in the Samsun-Ceyhan pipeline project in Turkey. Other partnerships announced include South Korea’s Kogas, France’s Total and Russia’s Novatek.

The sharp Turkish response stems from conflicting claims over the Eastern Mediterranean’s offshore natural gas reserves, which has spurred regional tensions in recent months. When Cyprus first announced their intention to begin exploration efforts in the Eastern Mediterranean’s Levant Basin, Turkey made their feelings known by sending a few ship into local waters. This week’s warning suggests that Ankara’s feelings have not changed very much.

For its own part, the Levant Basin offers Cyprus access to an estimated 5.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas within the country’s exclusive Economic Zone. According to Reuters, the country’s Industry and Tourism minister Neoclis Sylikiotis suggested they would be able to meet domestic needs with local natural gas by 2017 and earn export revenue by 2019. Having reported the natural gas find just this past December, Cyprus moved quickly to exploit the claim by asking for bids in May. The response from foreign firms, including Total and Italy’s Eni, amounted to 15 bids across 9 blocks.