Turkish Ship to Drill Cyprus' Block 7
The drill ship Yavuz, owned by Turkey's state upstream operator Turkish Ptroleum (TPAO) will start drilling south of Cyprus, today or tomorrow, Turkish energy minister Fatih Donmez said October 7. Donmez did not identify the precise location of the drill site beyond naming it as Guzelyurt-1. But vessel tracking sites show Yavuz at anchor around the northern part of Cyprus' exploration block 7.
Nicosia awarded exploration rights for block 7 to a consortium of Eni and Total in May this year and last month signed agreements allowing for the start of drilling, a move met by a stern warning from Ankara which claims that the north west part of Block 7 lies on Turkey's continental shelf.
"Turkey will in no way allow any foreign country, company or vessel to engage in unauthorised hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activities within its maritime jurisdiction areas, and will continue to take the necessary measures to protect its rights and interests," the Turkish foreign ministry said September 19.
In 2004 Ankara lodged a claim with the UN to the effect that Turkey's continental shelf extends to the west and south west of the island of Cyprus, which if ratified would grant it maritime rights over an area up to 350 nautical miles from the Turkish coast, covering the north western portion of Cyprus exploration block 7, the western half of block 1 and the northern sections of blocks 4,5 and 6.
Yavuz began drilling in the Mediterranean in August, at a site in the Bay of Gazimagusa off the island's east coast but last month returned to port in Turkey. No details of the results of that well have yet been released.
Donmez announced last week that Turkey's other drill ship, Fatih is continuing to drill north west of Cyprus and that drilling had reached a depth of 4,000 metres and will continue to 5,500 metres, but gave no further details.
Commenting on Turkey's drilling programme over the weekend, Turkey's president Tayyip Erdogan said TPAO'S two seismic survey vessels are continuing to operate in the east Mediterranean and that the company could lease a third drill ship and send that to the region too.