Exxon Mobil’s Ocean Investigator research vessel has sailed from the port of Limassol into block 10 of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to carry out hydrocarbon explorations for the U.S. oil giant.
Reports earlier in March that U.S. naval forces had been deployed in the eastern Mediterranean to protect ExxonMobil drilling activities were denied by Washington.
However, tension in the region has persisted in recent months, with EU leaders having said they “strongly condemn Turkey’s continued illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea”.
A second research Exxon Mobil ship called Med Surveyor also departed from the port of Limassol on Tuesday and headed towards Piraeus, Greece, after having completed its environmental research in block 10.
These surveys were made in the past without attracting any attention, but this time they obtained significance because of Turkey’s military action which has already curtailed Italian energy giant ENI’s drilling in block 3 in late February.
Last week Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country had sent a research ship to the troubled waters of the eastern Mediterranean, adding that Turkish Cyprus should also have access to Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.
Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades said Tuesday that he would like to have Turkey as an ally in the island nation’s bid to exploit potential offshore gas reserves, but Ankara must stop its “gunboat diplomacy” preventing exploratory drilling.