Turkey will start drilling for oil and gas in northern Cyprus this month despite opposition from Greek Cypriots, the north's energy minister says.
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Economy and Energy Minister Sunat Atun said Tuesday in Istanbul that the Turkish Petroleum Corp. will launch the land-based drilling initiative at the end of April, the Anatolian News Agency reported.
"Drilling will be launched in one area now but it could be extended if the need arises," Atun said, adding that Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz would attend a ceremony to mark the launch the effort.
The announcement came amid growing tensions in the eastern Mediterranean between Turkey and Greek Cypriots after Nicosia last year began natural gas and oil exploration in its own exclusive economic zone.
Ankara, in response, deployed warships to the area, and, in a tit-for-tat move, signed an agreement with the Turkish Cypriots to delineate the continental shelf between the two counties -- although Turkey is the only country that recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus -- with the aim of enabling Turkish Petroleum to carry out seismic research and offshore oil exploration.