Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced on Sunday that no other countries would be permitted by Ankara to drill for natural gas off the coast of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean sea. According to a report from Reuters, Erdogan made the announcement while attending the christening of two new Turkish warships — a submarine and a corvette.
“We will not accept attempts to extract natural resources in our country, Cyprus or in the eastern Mediterranean,” Erdogan said during the speech, according to Reuters.
Experts believe that the eastern Mediterranean Sea has sizeable natural gas reserves ripe for extracting; however, the promise of an abundant energy supply has made the region hotly contested — especially between Turkey and Greece.
Relations between the two countries are strained over the issue of Cyprus, a country that remains divided between the Greek and Turkish populations. Although once a united country, Cyprus has been divided since 1974 after Turkey invaded the country. Today, the Greek-backed government in the south is recognized by the world, but Ankara is the only government which acknowledges the Turkish-backed leadership in the north.
Tensions between the two European countries heated up last month after a Greek warship intercepted a Turkish natural gas exploration vessel off the Cypriot coast. According to Reuters, Athens has denied involvement in the incident.
Greece isn’t the only country that disagrees with Turkey’s claim on the natural gas fields. The Turkish-backed Cypriot government has also voiced objection to Turkey’s drilling intentions. According to Reuters, north Cyprus officials claim that the drilling rights belong to Cypriot citizens.
While Turkey attempts to secure more of the fuel, the United States is getting ready to begin exporting its surplus of natural gas from Corpus Christi, TX. Although this will be the first time the Texas port is being used for this purpose, the US has been exporting liquid natural gas for two years.
“For the first time in 60 years, the United States is now the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas, and we are now exporting natural gas to 30 nations on five continents,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry in a press release. “Approving short-term LNG exports from projects like Corpus Christi is just one example of how the Administration is pursuing energy dominance and boosting our economy.”
According to a report from Market Watch, the US natural gas inventories were hovering around three trillion cubic feet in late October. However, the price of natural gas is expected to rise as the cooling temperatures drive up energy demands.