The two energy giants had been awarded oil exploration licenses by Cyprus to exploit Section 5 of its self-declared exclusive economic zone.
Both the US and Qatar have assured Turkey that Exxon Mobil and Qatar Energy (QE, formerly Qatar Petroleum) will not enter Turkey’s continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The two companies were awarded energy exploration licenses by Cyprus earlier this month, triggering Turkey to accuse Cyprus of violating its continental shelf, noting it would not permit unauthorised oil exploration in its jurisdiction.
QE was awarded 40% while Exxon Mobil took hold of 60%.
The hydrocarbon exploration license was awarded in Section 5 of Greek-backed Nicosia’s self-declared exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which Ankara claims overlaps with its own continental shelf.
“No matter who they are, they cannot enter our continental shelf without our permission,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to parliament during a ministry budget discussion on Monday.
“Both countries – the United States and Qatar – have guaranteed that they will not enter our continental shelf,” said Cavusoglu, emphasising that Exxon Mobil and QE will remain south of his nations declared continental shelf.
This comes as QE announced on Monday that it would acquire a 17% stake in two Shell-operated Block 3 and Block 4 in Egypt’s Red Sea.
According to Shell Egypt, Shell will remain the main operator of the concessions.
Greece and Turkey disagree on the bounds of their continental shelves.
In Cyprus, Turkey does not accept that the Nicosia government – which Ankara does not recognise – has a continental shelf at all.
The island Cyprus was split during a Turkish invasion in 1974 that was triggered by a coup led by Greek-Cypriot nationalists.
Turkey does not hold diplomatic ties with the globally-recognised Greek Cypriot government, but supports the Turkish Cypriot state in northern Cyprus.