ExxonMobil drillship heads to Cyprus despite Turkish protests

A drillship leased by U.S. oil giants ExxonMobil is expected to arrive in Cyprus next week, despite repeated warnings from the Turkish government, The Greek Reporter said on Tuesday. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday that Turkey would not accept attempts to seize natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean that exclude Turkey and the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

The exploration and drilling of natural gas reserves surrounding Cyprus is a contentious topic between the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey, which is the only country to recognise the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north of the island. Turkey says Turkish Cypriots should also have a say in gas exploration and a share of any revenues.

The ExxonMobil vessel will be performing exploratory drills in Cyprus’ offshore block 10, for which Turkey has not yet expressed any territorial claims

Cypriot authorities have meanwhile issued a Navtex, or marine advisory, reserving an area surrounding the drilling sites, the Greek Reporter said. The Navtex runs from No. 10 to Feb. 25, 2019.

Turkish warships this year twice blocked the course of an exploration vessel leased by Italian energy firm Eni off Cyprus.

Turkey's first drilling vessel, Fatih, also started its first deep drilling in offshore Antalya on the country's southern Mediterranean coast last week, while a Turkish survey vessel has also been conducting research near Cyprus.