Turkey eyeing control of East Med

Turkey eyeing control of East Med

The Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) has extensive and long-term plans in the Eastern Mediterranean that do not only include Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but also areas on the edge of the Greek continental shelf, Kathimerini understands.

According to analysts, TPAO appears to have already carried out seismic explorations in certain areas east of the 28th meridian on the edge of the Greek continental shelf where there are indications of hydrocarbon reserves.

The same analysts also believe that Ankara’s next step will be to conduct supplementary prospecting to select drilling targets, with the ultimate aim of consolidating its claims by installing platforms to extract hydrocarbons.

Turkey’s plan to extend its activities in the Eastern Mediterranean stem from its increasing energy needs, in particular for natural gas, where demand is estimated at 52 billion cubic meters per year.

At the moment, Ankara is heavily dependent on Russia and Iran, importing 55-60 percent of its natural gas from the former and 20 percent from the latter. As a result, it has for some time now turned its sights on the Eastern Mediterranean, making its claims to natural energy reserves in the region part of its long-term strategy. 

According to an article published in Sunday's Kathimerini by petroleum geologist and energy economist Konstantinos Nikolaou, Turkey has, most likely, already conducted seismic research east of the 28th meridian over two periods.

The first stretched from 2012 to 2015, with the Cesme vessel that was equipped with older technology. The second period from 2015 onwards was conducted by the more technologically advanced Barbaros.

Turkey strengthened its fleet of research vessels with the acquisition of the Fatih and Yavuz drill ships in 2018 and earlier this year, respectively.

The development of its fleet is seen as part of an overall plan by Ankara, highlighted by Turkish analysts, to control the Eastern Mediterranean and have the capability to deny access to other countries. The recent purchase of the S-400 missile defense system from Russia is also seen as serving this aim.