Turkey acquires third drillship amid disputes in eastern Mediterranean

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In this Tuesday, July 9, 2019 photo, a helicopter flies over Turkey's drilling ship, 'Fatih' dispatched towards the eastern Mediterranean, near Cyprus. Turkish officials say the drillships Fatih and Yavuz will drill for gas, which has prompted protests from Cyprus. (Turkish Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)

The state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) has added another drillship to its fleet, the Ahval news website reported on Sunday, citing the İstanbul-based maritime magazine Denizcilik Dergisi.

“The 228-meter-long drilling ship’s carrying capacity is nearly 62,000 tons and its current draught is reported to be 12 meters. It has a rated water depth of 3,000 meters and a drilling depth capacity of up to 11,400 meters,” Denizcilik Dergisi said, adding that the maximum drilling depth capability of Turkey’s first two drillships in operation, the Fatih and the Yavuz, is around 12,000 meters.

Turkey’s deployment of vessels to search for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean has sparked a dispute with Greek Cyprus while prompting the EU to threaten Ankara with sanctions.

Fatih and Yavuz have operated inside Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) since May. Turkey has sent two warships to the area to escort the drilling vessels.

Turkey maintains that the Turkish Cypriots have a right to a share of the revenue from natural gas reserves off Cyprus, while the Cypriot government says the matter will be resolved after a peace deal is established on the divided island.

Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) partially overlaps with Turkey’s continental shelf, according to Ankara.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the north in response to a Greek Cypriot coup aiming to unite the island with Greece. Since then, the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus has controlled the southern two-thirds of the island, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, only recognized by Turkey, the northern third.

The two countries recently had another row over energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean after Ankara signed a maritime deal with Libya that expanded Turkey’s claims over a large gas-rich area of the sea.

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