Turkey’s first drillship to set off to the Mediterranean

Turkey’s first drillship is about to set off to the Mediterranean, Turkish Petroleum said on Thursday.

The ship, Fatih, formerly known as DeepSea Metro-II, is currently at the Dilovası port, in the gulf of Izmit, according to the MarineTraffic website, but her destination is seen as Antalya.

“Fatih, Turkey's first drilling ship sets off today,” Turkish Petroleum said in a tweet.

The Turkish survey ship Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa has carried out seismic surveys for hydrocarbon reserves between the island of Cyprus and Turkey since early April.

Turkey will start drilling for oil and gas in the Mediterranean before the end of summer, Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak said on May 11.

It appears Turkey may start its drilling operation in the Mediterranean before presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24.

Tensions over the exploitation of natural resources believed to be present under the seas around Cyprus have peaked in recent months. Turkey has sought to block gas exploration by the Greek Cypriot government with warships and military exercises, prompting criticism from Greece, the European Union and the United States. 

Turkey warships off Cyprus physically blocked drillship Saipem 12000, leased by Italian energy company Eni, in February, but have not attempted to do the same with exploration vessel Ocean Investigator, leased by U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil.

Turkey says the 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 that Turkish troops invaded in 1974.