Turkey’s exploratory vessel Barbaros is reportedly circling Block 6 within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and has approached nearby Block 7 on several occasions.
Cypriot government officials – including Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides – this week said that they were “anticipating the provocations by Turkey” and calling on the public to be calm.
On Saturday, Barbaros had moved into the waters west of Paphos where Block 6 –which has been contracted for exploratory rights by the Cypriot government to Italian energy firm ENI and France’s Total – is situated where it stayed for around 45 minutes in the afternoon.
The vessel then appeared to sail due east towards Block 7 before then turning around and heading north again towards Turkey. Block 7 is not contracted to any energy companies.
But it later changed course again and began sailing back south towards Block 7 – situated southwest of Akrotiri and next to Block 11, where works are currently underway by drill vessel West Capella on behalf of ENI/Total.
Barbaros never entered Block 7 and instead appeared to be in a holding pattern within Block 6.
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Tensions between Turkey and Cyprus have increased since the collapse of the peace talks in the Swiss Resort of Crans-Montana – 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.
Albayrak claims his country 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.
However, Turkey’s claims do not stop at Block six.
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.
Furthermore, Turkey claims that Block 11 – where the West Capella is about to start exploratory drilling on behalf of a Total/ENI partnership – belongs to Egypt.
Following statements by Cavusoglu that the Turkish Foreign and Energy Ministry would cooperate against the unilateral measures taken by Cyprus, The General Staff of the Turkish armed forces announced the deployment of the frigate Gokceada to observe the developments around the West Capella and the scheduled exploratory drills.