Kathimerini Greece Newsroom
Turkey’s fourth drilling ship will start work in the first half of August and probably in the Mediterranean, according to Turkey’s Energy Minister Fatih Donmez.
He said the exact area of drilling has not yet been determined, but noted that the rig’s mission will be the Blue Homeland, which represents a large swath of an area in the Mediterranean where Turkey claims to have influence, and consequently, a violation of Greek and Cypriot rights.
In the event that this drilling vessel is directed to an area in the Cyprus EEZ or even further west, i.e. to areas of Greek maritime jurisdiction, then an escalation of tension is expected.
The 'Blue Homeland' phrase is most often used as a shorthand expression for Ankara’s maritime claims in the eastern Mediterranean. Central to these interests is the presence of large deposits of natural gas off the coast of the island of Cyprus. For Turkey, the lion’s share of these deposits lies within what Turkey interprets as its exclusive economic zone.
Analysts believe that the location of the drilling will be determined not only by scientific data but also by political aspects.
Donmez said that Turkey has been conducting research “in areas under its own jurisdiction” in recent years.
In the event that this drilling vessel is directed to an area in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) or even further west – i.e. to areas of Greek maritime jurisdiction – then an escalation of tension is expected.
There are also scenarios circulating in Ankara of cooperation with Libya’s hydrocarbon exploration company.
This is perhaps the reason why the Turkish government is leaving any possibility open and that the final decision will depend on the political situation in August.
The new drilling rig called Abdul Hamid Khan is 238 meters long and 42 meters wide and is considered the most powerful among Turkey’s drilling fleet.
In 2021, Turkey announced that it discovered deposits of 400 billion cubic meters in the Black Sea.
In 2026 the Turkish government intends to meet 25% of its gas needs from the fields it has discovered and hopes to continue its exploration.
Currently, Turkey buys 44.9% of its gas from Russia, 16.1% from Iran and 15% from Azerbaijan.