The newest Turkish drill Abdulhamid Han has begun trial runs off the Turkish coast as it prepares to set off for exploratory hydrocarbons drills in the Eastern Mediterranean on August 9, including the Republic of Cyprus exclusive economic zone.
According to the latest reports, Turkey wants to keep Greece and Cyprus guessing on the location of the drilling as part of its tactics to keep them off balance.
One of the moves that Ankara is looking into as Turkish sources say, is to conduct it’s first drilling outside the Cyprus EEZ, most likely in the Antalya bay.
As the same sources indicate, a 2nd possibility is to send the drill west of Cyprus in an area where the first drilling process was conducted in May 2019, around 60 kilometers northwest of Pafos, off the Akamas peninsula.
Turkey continues to claim in international fora such as the UN and the EU of having ‘legal rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, mainly west of the geographical longitude 32°16’18”E’, which runs over the western tip of Cyprus, in the Akamas area.
The line of Turkish claims is marked from Turkish shores extending through to Egypt.
If the 2nd scenario is realised following a first drill in the Antalya bay, it would mean yet another violation of the Cyprus EEZ, north of sea plots 6 and 7, currently licensed to French-Italian consortium ENI-TOTAL.
Yet another option for Ankara is to directly take its drill to a sea plot licensed by the Republic of Cyprus, an eventuality yet to be confirmed and depending on political conditions at the time.
This will take place in an area claimed by Turkey or one that Ankara considers as belonging to the occupation regime in the north, given its claim to act on behalf of the illegal entity.
A ceremony to launch the drill’s activities is likely, with President Erdogan himself attending and expected to once again make threats towards Athens and Nicosia.
The drill was recently visited by the Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar who wished ‘fruitful drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean’.