As Cyprus prepares to start offshore drilling for gas in its economic zone, Turkey announced it was readying “countermeasures” and Greece replied it was “ready to defend its sovereign rights”, in a clear sign of growing tensions between the two NATO members.

A total of 2,000 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas has been discovered in the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Cyprus, Israel and Egypt and exploration continues. For the sake of comparison, the total annual consumption of natural gas in the EU was 426 bcm in 2015.

The island of Cyprus remains divided into Turkish and Greek parts. After the recent collapse of Cyprus peace talks, the government in Nicosia decided to move on with the scheduled drilling of gas in its exclusive economic zone.

Turkey is the only member of the United Nations which does not recognise Cyprus. Unlike Nicosia, it has not signed the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Turkey also claims that Cyprus’s internationally recognised government has no jurisdiction to explore for hydrocarbons.

France’s Total and Italy’s ENI moved into position on Wednesday (12 July) to start exploratory drilling off Cyprus’s coast. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned the energy companies, and indirectly the two capitals, not to proceed with the drilling, as they would risk “losing a friend”.

@This article is published by 2017-07.19 and mostly based on information from Euroactive which has been edited by Lennart Ljungblom. is focusing on news that may have an impact on bioenergy business as well as bioenergy news with general impact, on line since 2013.