20110831 russia oil drill
An ice-resistant platform meant to drill for oil in the Russian sector of the Caspian Sea. - 

Steve Chiotakis: Another U.S. oil company's causing a big rift in the Middle East, this time in the waters
between Turkey and Cyprus.

Julia Simon reports from Cairo.

Julia Simon: When it comes to players in the Eastern Mediterranean basin, there's Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Cyprus. And then there's Noble Energy of Houston, Texas.

Catherine Hunter: Noble energy is the lead company and has the most exposure to the East Mediterranean so far.

That's Catherine Hunter of IHS Energy. She says the regional tensions started last year. That's when Noble made the world's largest deep water natural gas discovery of the past decade, in Israeli waters near Cyprus.

Hunter says that immediately all the neighbors started contesting the waters.

Hunter: Those finds have been made in a region with longstanding existing disputes, over boundaries onshore, over political issues. So suddenly we have energy injected into that already complex mix.

Noble wouldn't comment for this story, but this week the company began its scheduled drilling south of Cyprus.

Meanwhile Turkey has threatened to send war ships if Noble doesn't stop drilling.

In Cairo, I'm Julia Simon, for Marketplace.