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Turkey is sending a drillship on its first Med mission in two years

#Turkey #sending #drillship #Med #mission #years

Turkey on Tuesday sent its newest drillship on the first energy exploration mission in the eastern Mediterranean in almost two years.

Searching for natural gas in energy-rich waters around the divided island of Cyprus has become a nuisance in Turkey’s relations with the European Union.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Abdulhamid Han drillship – the fourth built by Turkey – will be sent to an undisputed area some 55 kilometers (34 miles) south of the city of Gazipasa.

But he also brushed aside Greek and Cypriot objections to such missions, saying Turkey has the right to explore for energy in areas it claims as its own.

The Abdulhamid Han is “the symbol of Turkey’s new vision in the energy sector,” said Erdogan at the farewell ceremony in the south-southern city of Mersin.

Tensions between Ankara and Brussels rose in 2020 after Turkey sent a seismic research vessel and drillship into contested waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus.

A Greek and Turkish warship shadowing one of the reconnaissance missions got into a minor collision in the Mediterranean Sea in August.

The designated area for Abdulhamid Han is north of Cyprus and far from disputed marine regions.

However, Erdogan warned that Turkey reserves the right to explore for gas in disputed waters claimed by Ankara.

“Our ship will not stop, it will go to other wells and keep looking (for gas) until it finds it,” Erdogan said defiantly.

“The drilling operations that we are carrying out in the Mediterranean are under our own responsibility. We don’t need anyone’s permission.”

Turkish media reported that the ship will search for gas until October 7.

Energy-hungry Turkey relies on external sources to meet its growing demand.

Russia accounted for about a quarter of Turkey’s oil imports and 45 percent of its natural gas purchases last year.

“The sooner we can increase our natural gas and oil resources, which have been weaponized during the global economic crisis, the more benefits we will gain in this critical process,” Erdogan said.

“It will help us reduce our energy dependency and close our current account deficit.”

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