Cypriot officials at the state's Department of Environment say an entire study, which was inadvertently posted online in 2017, might have given Ankara a leg-up in the search for gas off the coast of Limassol.
According to daily Politis, a department official said a study compiled by Italian energy firm ENI was posted online in its entirety by mistake back in 2017.
Earlier this week, Cypriot Government Spokesperson Kyriacos Koushos said Ankara had “somehow” obtained information regarding Block 8, in the Cypriot EEZ, which lies north of Egypt’s Zohr and Israel’s Leviathan gas fields.
Koushos, who clarified he did not wish to insinuate that the energy company had leaked the information to Turkish firms, said it appeared that Ankara had obtained “somehow” the information contained in ENI study.
It later turned out that ENI had sent the full study to the department, which in turn posted the findings online instead of a summary
It later turned out, according to Politis, that ENI had sent the full study to the Department of Environment, which in turn posted the findings online according to regulations.
But ENI and government officials quickly protested and demanded that the study be removed from the website. It was pulled down days later after parts of the study made their way to the Greek and Greek Cypriot press.
According to additional reports, a summary should have been posted online, but department officials who received the entire document “as is” went ahead and published it by mistake.
Suspicions over Turkey having obtained information about Block 8 prior to exploratory drilling were raised in a report by daily Phileleftheros earlier this week, saying Ankara had benefited from data collected by ENI after the newspaper compared maps and concluded ENI drilling points were too close to locations pinpointed by Yavuz over the weekend.
Local media went as far as to accuse Ankara of stealing the information while Koushos remained adamant that there was no insinuation that either ENI, or French energy giant TOTAL, had anything to do with sharing the information.
On Thursday, Koushos reacted to growing media scrutiny that focused on Ankara having possibly intercepted the data, with the official saying he had used the term “theft” by mistake according to daily Reporter.
Observers said Yavuz may have been selecting drilling spots based on a number of sources, including data from Turkish exploratory vessel Barbaros or the ENI study published for a few days online in error.