A new Turkish seismic research ship is scheduled to set sail for the Mediterranean to explore for sources of hydrocarbons on Monday, Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız announced over the weekend.
Turkey has hired a new seismic research ship for oil and gas exploration, and the ship is scheduled to leave for the eastern Mediterranean on Monday, Yıldız announced. Opposing claims that Turkey only had one research ship in the eastern Mediterranean, Yıldız said there were two Turkish ships — the Piri Reis and another ship — which have currently been conducting research off the coast of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC). Yıldız explained that the confusion surrounding the existence of a second ship was related to the exploration activities not being “overly publicized” to avoid pressure being put on the international company Turkey hired the ship from. Yıldız further clarified that the ship that was expected to set sail on Monday would be the third and that it was hired from a Norwegian company.
“As of Monday morning, a seismic research ship will leave [the Mediterranean port city of] Antalya to conduct three-dimensional exploration over the course of 40 days in a 1,100-kilometer zone,” Yıldız was quoted as saying by the NTV news channel on Sunday. The Piri Reis and the second ship were capable of conducting two-dimensional studies, Yıldız also noted, but refrained from disclosing further information about the second ship. The ships, in line with a delineation agreement Turkey signed with the KKTC back in September, will be able to conduct research in the southern, northern and western coasts off the Cypriot island, Yıldız stated. “By Monday, we will have three ships in the eastern Mediterranean doing exploration studies on [hydrocarbon] sources, which in a way constitutes the beginning of an era of drilling in the Mediterranean for us,” Yıldız said.
The Piri Reis set out from Turkey late in September with a mission to reciprocate Greek Cypriot drilling off the island of Cyprus to explore for natural gas and oil reserves under the seabed, a move that constituted the most recent crisis between Turkey and Greek Cyprus. The use of the ship, one of a kind in Turkey, has come under public criticism due to its old age, but Turkish officials bent on responding to the Greek Cypriots’ refusal to halt their drilling project insist that the ship can do its job.
Turkey and Greek Cyprus have been deadlocked over territorial disputes for decades. Yıldız said Turkey has been conducting seismic research in the Mediterranean in cooperation with an international company for 40 days, but did disclose who the company was.
Cyprus is divided into a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north. The southern administration began exploratory drilling for oil and gas in mid-September, prompting strong protests from Turkey, which does not recognize the Greek Cypriot administration.
23 October 2011, Sunday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, ANKARA