Turkish Vessel to Begin Gas Exploration Off Crete – Report



A Turkish newspaper reported on Wednesday that Ankara will soon send an exploration vessel to start searching for hydrocarbon reserves off the southeast corner of the Greek island of Crete.

Yeni Safak reported that the vessel Oruc Reis will head to an area southeast of Crete after the Turkish Petroleum Corporation issues licenses for the new areas in the eastern Mediterranean. These areas were added to Turkey’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) after its widely-disputed maritime agreement with Libya.

Greece has declared the Turkey-Libya agreement illegal as it includes sea areas that are part of its own EEZ.

According to the newspaper, Turkey is waiting for the United Nations’ Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea to post the geographical coordinates of the maritime agreement, which was signed in November, 2019.

The memorandum of understanding sees Turkey and Libya as maritime neighbors, claiming a Turkish EEZ which overlaps areas that Greece has always believed to be its own, around Crete, Rhodes and other islands. Turkey claims that these islands do not have a continental shelf and therefore there is no EEZ around them.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, that his country had purchased a new offshore drilling ship which will arrive in Turkey next month.

According to a Reuters report, Erdogan described the ship as an “ultra maritime drill ship” which can drill down to a depth of 11,400 meters (7 miles), but did not specify where the ship would operate.

The Turkish leader added that the ship will begin operations in 2020.