The Saipem 12000 ultra deepwater drillship on Tuesday continued on its course for Cyprus, where later this month it is scheduled to carry out exploratory drilling for natural gas in offshore Cyprus.
The drillship’s expected time of arrival offshore Cyprus is December 27, 2017.
According to daily Phileleftheros, drilling at the first target – dubbed Kalipso – in block 6 is expected to start on December 30.
The drillship has been leased by the consortium of ENI and Total which have the licence on block 6.
The operations in block 6 are expected to wrap up by early February 2018, after which the drillship will almost immediately head to block 3 – also licensed to ENI – for another exploratory drill. The target in block 3 is codenamed Soupia.
Turkey, which does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus, claims that block 6 partially falls within the outer limits of its continental shelf in the eastern Mediterranean.
In a letter sent to the United Nations in May, Turkey’s permanent representative to the UN Feridun Sinirlioglu expressed “grave concerns” over Cyprus licensing the acreage in question.
Sinirlioglu added that “Turkey is committed to protecting its sovereign rights emanating from international law and will not allow foreign companies to conduct unauthorised hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activities on its continental shelf.”
In what is by now a familiar tactic, Turkey recently issued a Navtex – or marine advisory – by which it reserved for navy exercises a huge sea area around Cyprus. The reserved area reportedly covers all 13 offshore blocks either partially or in full.
The marine advisory expires on December 23.
Cyprus regards Turkish marine advisories as illegal, not because they violate the island’s territorial waters or continental shelf per se, but because the areas reserved by Turkey fall under the Republic’s Search and Rescue (SAR) Area of Responsibility.
Phileleftheros reports that, in a pre-emptive move, Cyprus has recently issued its own marine advisories by which it reserves for scientific and environmental research certain sea areas in blocks 6 and 3, including the two drilling targets.
Meanwhile reports in the Cypriot and Greek media said a drillship leased by Turkey was headed to the eastern Mediterranean, ostensibly to conduct drilling operations there.
Turkish government officials have repeatedly made noises about plans to drill for gas in the eastern Mediterranean – without specifying where.
The drillship referred to is the DeepSea Metro II. On Tuesday it was located between the coasts of France and Spain. The vessel’s destination was Istanbul, with an estimated time of arrival there of December 31.