Turkey to deploy Oruc Reis for gas exploration off Cyprus
Turkey has issued a new naval maritime notice (Navtex) for its research vessel Oruc Reis on Tuesday, reserving parts of the Eastern Mediterranean for drilling surveys, a move that would further deteriorate the tense relations between Ankara and Athens.
In the notice, Turkey said Oruc Reis, accompanied with the Ataman vessel, will carry out seismic research in an area between its southern Antalya coast and Cyprus, starting on Sunday.
The Navtex will end on March 24, according to a statement issued by the Office of Navigation, Hydrography and Oceanography’s Antalya station.
Turkey and Greece had come to the brink of war in the summer of 2020, when Ankara deployed Oruc Reis to conduct seismic research off the coast of Cyprus and Greek islands, escorted by warships. Greece who said the vessel was over its own continental shelf, where it has exclusive rights on potential hydrocarbons undersea, has responded by deploying its warships and air force to shadow the Turkish vessel. The standoff prompted the European Union to impose sanctions against senior Turkish Energy Ministry officials.
The new Navtex came hours after Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez announced that Oruc Reis will be ready to conduct exploratory research for natural gas and oil within a month.
Oruc Reis is currently anchored at Turkey’s Filyos Port of the Black Sea.