Athens braces for another drilling crisis in East Med
Turkish research ship Oruc Reis may be preparing for activities in the Eastern Mediterranean with a potential to spark another crisis with Greece over drilling rights, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported.
More evidence indicated that Turkey will intensify its exploration and drilling activities possibly as soon as October, Kathimerini said, citing activity in Turkey’s southern port of Tasucu in recent weeks, where the research vessel Oruc Reis is based.
Sources observed that the Oruc Reis has been upgraded, as the range of its survey cables has almost doubled from almost 2.5 kilometers to 4 kilometers. Two auxiliary vessels, essential for exploration, were also docked at Tasucu, sources said.
In a negative scenario considered by Athens, Oruc Reis is expected to return to the area between Rhodes and Karpathos which fall under the potential exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Greece.
The same scenario also considers that Turkey’s second drilling ship Abdulhamid Han, which is currently between Turkey and Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, could advance its operations further south simultaneously with Oruc Reis, in the northern section of Cypriot EEZ.
Given that the Navtex under which the Abdulhamid Han started operations between Turkey and Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus expires at the beginning of October, the possibility of it operating in this area is being considered, Kathimerini said.
Turkey’s Abdulhamid Han resumed its hydrocarbon drilling operations in the eastern Mediterranean last month after a two year hiatus, outside waters claimed by Cyprus.
Natural gas discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean in the past decade have made the region a viable alternative energy source, but also exposed disputes between Turkey and Greece over drilling rights.