The government on Tuesday said that no vessels associated with illegal Turkish drilling operations in Cypriot waters had either docked at, or approached the harbour in Limassol.
Deputy Minister of Shipping Natasa Pilides was responding to local media reports claiming the ship Vos Prime, operated by Dutch company Vroon Offshore Services, had set anchor at the port of Limassol last week.
Whereas the ship in question did dock at Limassol, Pilides said, the company is not providing any support to the Turkish drillship Yavuz, currently located off the Karspasia peninsula and said to be readying to drill into the seabed for hydrocarbons.
“There is no cause for alarm,” Pilides said, adding that the Dutch outfit in question had weeks ago assured the government it would not be taking part in any Turkish offshore activities around Cyprus.
The Vos Prime was one of the support vessels named in a Turkish Navtex issued on July 7. Two other vessels were also named as assisting the Turkish drillship: the Vos Prince (owned by the same Dutch company) and the Posh Sincero.
However as far back as July 10, the company – Vroon Offshore Services – had released a statement noting that they would not after all be supporting Turkish drilling operations.
“We know the political sensitivities between Turkey and Cyprus in relation to the location of Yavuz’s drilling and that is why our ships will not support their operations in Cypriot waters,” a company spokesperson said at the time.
The site earmarked for drilling by the Yavuz is dubbed ‘Karpaz1’. It is located in so-called ‘Block E’ of the northern breakaway state.
It appears that Vroon Offshore Services is not the only foreign company that has withdrawn from Turkish offshore operations in Cypriot waters.
According to Phileleftheros, the two remaining companies supporting Turkey’s other drillship the Fatih in waters west of Paphos have likewise backed out.
The daily claimed that, as of now, the Fatih is receiving no assistance from European entities or personnel, be they sub-contractors aboard the drillship itself or support vessels.
Foreign companies, except one from Kazakhstan, are said to have disengaged following legal and other measures taken by the Republic.
Cyprus had issued European arrest warrants for the crews of the vessels supporting the Fatih, targeting EU nationals.
In addition, the daily reports, Cypriot authorities drew up a ‘black list’ of foreign companies found to have initially supported Turkish offshore operations.
These outfits were to be banned from any work related to drills being planned by ExxonMobil, Total and ENI on behalf of Cyprus.
The same companies were also warned they would be denied port facilities for any offshore operations they might undertake for Egypt or Israel.
The first Turkish drillship, the Fatih, arrived in waters west of the island in early May. The second, the Yavuz, arrived off eastern Cyprus on July 10.
Turkey’s claims on maritime zones to the west of Cyprus overlap with parts of two offshore blocks within Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.
In waters to the east, Turkey backs claims by the breakaway regime on several offshore blocks declared by Cyprus.