Friction in East Med to be prolonged

Friction in East Med to be prolonged

Turkey’s Oruc Reis seismic survey vessel will explore the area east of the 28th meridian for another two months, according to Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez, effectively heralding a long period of friction in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

His statement essentially confirms Kathimerini's report that Turkey, according to its own calculations, has completed almost half of its 2-D surveys. Therefore, if the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) wants to complete these surveys, new exploratory activities will be necessary at least until the end of November, which means another navigational advisory (Navtex) will be issued after Wednesday’s expires on October 27.  

According to the current Navtex, the Oruc Reis will conduct activities west and northwest of the Kastellorizo island ​​complex, and to its east reaching up to 6.5 nautical miles away. It will also be active in an area around 12 nautical miles from Rhodes. 

However, the worst-case scenario for Athens would be, at some point in the coming weeks, for Ankara to send out its Yavuz rig to drill in an area where the continental shelves of Greece, Cyprus and Turkey meet – a region where Ankara claims it conducted 3-D surveys between October 2018 and February 2019. 

Meanwhile NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called for contacts to be held that will help reduce tensions. He acknowledged the deconfliction mechanism will not resolve the underlying issues, but said it could help lead to exploratory talks. 

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