The Turkish military was conducting a live fire exercise on Wednesday north west of Cyprus on the same day that Exxon Mobil was set to hold a news conference to discuss the energy prospects of the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The drill by Turkey – which got underway at 5am on Wednesday morning following two NAVTEX that were issued by Ankara – is expected to last until the early afternoon.
It will also include Turkish exploratory vessel ‘Barbaros’, submarines and frigates which will be reportedly situated circling within Block 6 and 7 of Cyprus’ EEZ.
The West Capella drillship has been conducting seismic tests within block 11, licensed to a consortium comprising Total and ENI. The test results are expected to be announced later this month.
ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum consortium had, earlier this year, expressed their intent to drill their first exploration well in 2018.
ExxonMobil will be holding a press conference later on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Italy’s Eni and France’s Total have been engaged in exploration drilling in Block 11 since the middle of July. The energy ministry expects them to announce any findings over the coming weeks.
Italian energy giant ENI is expected to start three hydrocarbon exploratory wells in Blocks 3, 6 and 8 in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on November 1.
The drill site in Block 3 has been named Soupia (Cuttlefish), the site in Block 6, Calypso, and the drill site in Block 8, Eratosthenis South 1.
The plans were revealed when ENI submitted applications for the necessary licences from state services, while its 600-page environmental impact study is expected to be submitted in September.
Exploring the Mediterranean’s Levant Basin has become more attractive ever since Eni discovered Egypt’s offshore Zohr field in 2015, the biggest gas field in the Mediterranean and estimated to contain 850 billion cubic metres of gas.
Noble Energy of the US made Cyprus’s first natural gas discovery offshore in 2011.
Tensions between Turkey and Cyprus have increased since the collapse of the peace talks in the Swiss Resort of Crans-Montana in the summer – after Greek Cypriots failed to agree with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu over a new deal on security and intervention rights for a new federal Cyprus.
Turkey’s relations with Greece have also soured since the peace talks hit the dead-end.
Turkey claims that it is preserving its ‘guarantee rights’ and are essentially question the island’s EEZ in its entirety.
Turkey has announced that it is looking to buy a platform to start hydrocarbon exploration in Block 6 within Cyprus’ EEZ of which Turkey claims the northern half.
Similar claims have been made for Blocks four and five while it also suggests that blocks two, three, eight and nine and a large portion of Block 12 are licensed by the Turkish Cypriot authorities and particularly the Turkish Petroleum Company.