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Turkey pushing ahead with hydrocarbons exploration around Cyprus

The Turkish seismic vessel Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa

The Turkish vessel Barbaros will begin explorations in Cyprus’ offshore block 9 on Sunday, while explorations in blocks 1, 8 and 12 of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) will take place by end of May, according to Turkish daily Yeni Şafak on Saturday.

Block 9 was drilled twice by Italy’s ENI in 2014 and 2015, coming up empty in both instances. The company said it had not found sufficient commercially exploitable natural gas either in the Onasgoras or Amathusa fields within block 9.

Yeni Safak also reported that on February 27, Turkey would also be staging its biggest naval exercise in and around Cyprus’ offshore blocks, CNA reported.

The Barbaros has been sailing to the coastal area south of Cyprus for natural gas explorations, and will remain in the area until the end of May in view of explorations licenced by the Turkish Cypriot ‘government’, the report added.

The Turkish ship will be accompanied by two frigates and two corvettes.

According to Yeni Şafak, “due to the stance of the Greek Cypriot leadership, which is ignoring north Cyprus, Turkey issued successive Navtex notices declaring the wider Mediterranean region for training exercises.”

Navtex notices have also been issued for areas spanning EEZ blocks 4, 5, 6, 7, and 1, which has been characterised as a joint Turkey-Nato training exercise.

The paper adds that in February, the Barbaros will be undertaking joint naval exercises with the navies of the Mediterranean countries within the Standing Nato Maritime Group.

The frigates accompanying the Barbaros will also undertake joint exercises with military vessels from the USA, the UK, France, the Netherlands and Italy, which are also stationed in the area.

These exercises, Yeni Şafak added, will take place on the blocks that the Republic of Cyprus licensed energy companies Total and ENI to begin exploration.

Turkey’s claims on the island’s EEZ partly overlap with Cyprus’ blocks 1, 4, 6 and 7. Ankara also supports the north’s claims on blocks 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 12 and 13, including within few kilometres from the Aphrodite gas field in block12.

US giants ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum last month completed drilling activities in the Delphine target in Cyprus’ offshore block 10 but there will be no announcements until after the end of drilling in the block. The Stena Icemax drillship is currently drilling in Glafcos-1, the second location in block 10.

Reports over the past few days suggest there would be an announcement on the findings in around two weeks’ time.


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