By Elias Hazou
THE departure of a drilling rig from Turkey’s coast and headed toward Cyprus sparked wild media speculation on Wednesday, ending days of hysterical theories about the start of Turkish oil and gas exploration off the island.
The rig had left Iskenderun, in south eastern Turkey and was headed on a course toward the island. Greek media – soon copied by Cypriot media – initially reported that it might be headed offshore Cyprus to conduct deepwater drilling in block 2 or 3 on Turkey’s behalf. Subsequent reports during the day noted, however, that the rig might be headed to Limassol for maintenance, which proved to be the case.
The conjecture came amid unconfirmed earlier reports cited mostly in the Turkish press in recent weeks that Turkey was looking to buy or lease a deepwater drilling platform from a Romanian company. Ankara was also said to be in talks with Azerbaijan for the same purpose. The reports come in the wake of Turkey’s stated intent to follow up seismic research in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with actual exploratory drilling.
Maritime sources told the Cyprus Mail the jack-up rig had been working on a well off the Turkish coast, but at some point the contract was cancelled.
GSP Offshore, the Romanian owning company, subsequently decided that the rig required maintenance and survey inspection and selected Limassol port. The rig left Alexandretta on Tuesday. It is being towed and is expected to reach Cypriot waters on Saturday.
A Cyprus-based company has got the service contract at Limassol harbour. A towing ship operated by the same company will rendezvous with the rig once the latter reaches Cypriot territorial waters.
On arrival at Limassol, the rig will remain there for two to three months. The shallow-water rig can drill at a depth of up to 90m.
“A lot of fuss and confusion has been generated over nothing,” sources close to the company said.