Greek Cyprus issues navtex as Exxon’s drill ship set to arrive


The Greek Cypriot government on Saturday issued a navigational telex (navtex) notification to seafarers ahead of the arrival next week of a drilling ship commissioned by Exxon Mobil to explore for hydrocarbons in block 10 of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, Cyprus Mail reported.

The Stena IceMax drillship is expected to arrive within the next two days in the port of Limassol, with authorities issuing the navtex marine advisory valid until February 25, it said

The drillship is set to arrive amid warnings from Turkey that Ankara 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 source of tension 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.

“The drilling rig is expected to arrive within the timeframe set, according to schedule, tomorrow or the day after,” the Cyprus Mail quoted a source as saying.

The navtex 376/18 was issued by Greek Cyprus at 6.00 am local time (4.00 am GMT), it said, noting that drilling operations are expected to commence on November 15.

Meanwhile, a Turkish seismic survey vessel waded into Cyprus’ maritime zone, amid claims the boat had been harassed en route by a Greek frigate.

The vessel, Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa, will be conducting surveys in a sea area of 44,000 square kilometres and remain in the area until February 1, according to the Cyprus Mail.

Turkey claims that parts of some blocks Cyprus has designated for drilling fall inside its continental shelf, but has not expressed yet any claims on Block 10 in the Cypriot EEZ, where ExxonMobil is to start drilling.