Turkey is using its navy and air force to escort a ship conducting oil and gas exploration off Cyprus, an official said Tuesday, in the latest development in a dispute over the ownership of the divided island nation’s natural resources.
“We will try all channels of peace, but we will also protect our country’s interests until the end,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said Tuesday at an unrelated ceremony to mark the delivery of the first Turkish-made corvette warship to the navy.
The Turkish research ship, Koca Piri Reis, began its exploration Monday, but Turkish and Turkish Cypriots officials refused to reveal the ship’s exact location then.
Cyprus licensed U.S.-based Noble Energy Inc. to search for oil and gas near recently discovered Israeli offshore fields that contain more than 450 billion cubic meters (15.9 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas. Cyprus is exploring areas, around 115 miles (185 kilometers) off Cyprus, near where Israel discovered gas.