ATHENS – Greece is reportedly anticipating that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will move an energy research vessel off his coast and into the East Mediterranean including further exploration off Cyprus, which could raise conflict anxieties.
That could happen as soon as October, said Kathimerini, saying there is increasing evidence he wants to test Greece’s resolve, saying that there has been growing activity in the port of Tasucu in southern Turkey.
That’s where the energy research vessel the Oruc Reis is based, the paper saying well-informed sources it didn’t identify reported that it has been upgraded to expand its range and survey cables lengthened to nearly 4 kilometers (2.48 miles) from 2.5 kilometers (1.55 miles) to allow deeper sea exploration.
Also, the paper said, there are two other auxiliary vessels, essential for exploration, which the Turkish Petroleum Company (TPAO) just acquired, also docked at Tasucu.
That is said to have made the New Democracy government wary that Turkey – as it did in 2020, nearly bringing the countries to blows – will move vessels into the triangle between Rhodes, Karpathos and Kastellorizo.
That’s in Greece’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) but Turkey has shown disregard for Greek waters and claimed huge parts under an agreement with Libya dividing the seas that no other country recognizes.
The new worry is that the Oruc Reis now has the capability to do 3D surveys in the area, unlike two years earlier when its research was more limited in scope but still ratcheted up tensions by its presence near Greek islands.
The most worrying scenario for Greece, the paper said, is that Turkey could have the Oruc Reis work in tandem with another drillship, the Abdulhamid Han, in the northern part of Block 6 of Cyprus’ EEZ.
Greek authorities reportedly have information that there are indications of natural gas deposits in the area off the Gulf of Antalya where the Abdulhamid Han has been operating.