Turkey’s first drilling vessel, which was named after Istanbul’s conqueror Ottoman Sultan Fatih Sultan Mehmet, has sailed off to the Mediterranean to start the country’s first deep-sea drilling operations.
State-run Turkish Petroleum said the first stop by the Fatih — formerly known as DeepSea Metro-II — will be Antalya on the southwestern coast of Turkey, but it did not clarify where exactly it intends to start drilling.
There are concerns that if Ankara begins drilling off the coast of Cyprus, where Nicosia has already granted exploration licenses to foreign companies, then tensions in the region could flare up.
Back in February, Turkish warships off Cyprus physically blocked a drillship leased by Italian energy company ENI.
Turkey says exploration for potentially large gas reserves off Cyprus should take into account what it says are the rights of Turkish Cypriots in a breakaway state in the northern third of the island.
Speaking at the farewell ceremony, Turkey’s energy minister and son-in-law of President Erdogan, Berat Albayrak, said the ship would be carrying out its first drill at a depth of 2,600 meters off Antalya.
He said also that the drillship would be joined by a second vessel.