Turkey has determined seven licensed areas in the Eastern Mediterranean for oil exploration and drilling under the recent Libya pact, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez announced Monday.
Speaking during an interview on the TRT Haber television channel, Dönmez said that Turkey completed six drilling studies in the Eastern Mediterranean so far, while the Yavuz drilling vessel is conducting a seventh in the Selçuklu-1 location to the west of Cyprus.
He explained that Turkish drilling procedures fall under two categories: the licensed areas that are issued by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) to Turkey and the licensed areas that are issued by Turkey to Turkish Petroleum – Turkey's national oil company.
Turkish Petroleum has already applied in recent weeks to drill in the seven chosen licensed areas in the Eastern Mediterranean under the recent Libya pact.
On Nov. 27, Ankara and Libya’s United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) signed two separate pacts, one that encompasses military cooperation and the other maritime boundaries of the two countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The maritime pact, effective from Dec. 8, asserted Turkey's rights in the region in the face of unilateral drilling by the Greek Cypriot administration, clarifying that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area.
“The legal procedure will take almost three months, and if there are no other applications, Turkish Petroleum will start new drilling activities in these areas in the following three to four months,” the minister said.
Since last year, Ankara has sent drilling vessels to the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting the right of Turkey and the TRNC to the resources of the region.
Athens and Greek Cypriots have opposed the move, threatening to arrest the ships' crews and enlisting European Union leaders to join their criticism.
Ankara has on every occasion vowed it wants to see energy as an incentive for political resolution on the island and peace in the wider Mediterranean basin, not a catalyst for further tensions.
As a guarantor nation for the TRNC, the country has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area.
In 1974, following a coup aimed at the annexation of Cyprus by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.
Turkey has been conducting oil exploration and production activities in Libya for nearly 20 years, but these works were interrupted in 2011.
According to Dönmez, with the recent positive news from Libya, new infrastructure projects can be realized. "Turkish contractors are very familiar with the region and currently two big Turkish private firms are constructing two new big electricity production plants," he explained, adding that these projects could become operational in one or two months.
Mini YEKA tender announcement set for October
Dönmez also addressed Turkey's plans to announce the new mini Renewable Energy Resources Zone (YEKA) tenders in October for provinces that have a solar capacity of between 10 and 50 megawatts (MW).
During the fourth quarter of 2019, the country announced plans to hold YEKA tenders for solar energy in a new form, known as "mini YEKA."
The YEKA tenders form part of Turkey's aim to supply 65% of its energy needs from domestic and renewable sources by 2023. In 2017, through the energy ministry's YEKA tenders, Turkey held a solar tender with a capacity of 1,000 MW with a winning bid price per megawatt-hour of $6.99. An equivalent capacity wind tender was achieved at $3.49 per megawatt-hour also in 2017.
Turkey produced 66% of its electricity from local and renewable sources in the first five months of 2020, Dönmez said, noting that on May 24, a record 90% share of daily electricity production was generated from local and renewable sources.