Oruc Reis to make return to East Med

Oruc Reis to make return to East Med

Ankara is crafting the backdrop of a potential crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean, ahead of elections in both Turkey and Greece in 2023, as indicated by Energy Minister Fatih Donmez’s announcement on Tuesday that the Oruc Reis research ship is heading for the region. 

Kathimerini had forewarned about the Turkish plans for the upgraded Oruc Reis’ departure to the Eastern Mediterranean in an extensive report last Saturday.

Shortly after Donmez’s statements, Ankara issued a Navtex, effective from September 25 until March 24, 2023. The area which is reserved covers most of the eastern part of the Gulf of Antalya, very close to where the Abdulhamid Han drillship is already operating. Considering the technical upgrades that the Oruc Reis has undergone, it is possible that the scanning of the area in question could be completed well before the end of March. 

As Kathimerini has already reported, the range of the vessel’s survey cables has almost doubled from almost 2.5 kilometers to almost 4 kilometers. 

There are some indications that hydrocarbons may be concentrated in regions of the Gulf of Antalya and further south, where surveys have already been conducted and drilling is under way.

For its part, Athens is closely monitoring the activities of the two ships in the Eastern Mediterranean.

For the time being, the worst-case scenario of sending the Oruc Reis to places where it was active in 2020, within the prospective Greek continental shelf, has not materialized. This area is in the imaginary triangle formed by Rhodes, Kastellorizo and the easternmost portion of Greece’s possible exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

This area is known as “Demre” in Turkish surveys, after the town of the same name located west of Antalya (Greek: Myra Lycia). The term “potential” is used because Greece has not established an EEZ in this area.

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