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Cyprus govt backtracks on claim Turkey ‘stole offshore gas data’

Cyprus govt backtracks on claim Turkey ‘stole offshore gas data’

A government spokesman in Cyprus backpedaled Thursday on a claim that Ankara may have stolen technical data to pinpoint a target for gas drilling in waters where the island nation has exclusive economic rights. Kyriakos Koushos told AP that no such data theft had occurred and his use of the word “stolen” in a Wednesday program by Greece’s state broadcaster was a mistaken “slip of the tongue.”

However, Koushos asserted that Turkey did obtain data that enabled it to send a drill ship to a specific location that two energy companies licensed by Cyprus – Eni and Total – had pre-selected to carry out their own exploratory drilling.

The spokesman said that data might have been gleaned from a Turkish research vessel that had scoured the area called Block 8 in search of geological information, hinting there were gas deposits locked underneath the seabed.

Turkey’s drilling activities have ratcheted up tensions in the eastern Mediterranean. Ankara says it’s acting to protect its rights, and those of breakaway Turkish Cypriots, to the region’s energy reserves.