The rough patch Greece has been through these last days in the Aegean (with the incident involving its coastguard due to a ramming of one of its boats by a Turkish counterpart near the Imia islets, appearing as Imia/Kardak at Googlemaps and Marinetraffic…) co-incides with far graver storms in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus. There, ENI’s “Floating Storage Production” drillship SAIPEM 12000 is reported “of restricted manoeuvrability”; that is, it has been stopped by Turkish ships in its tracks as it was cruising from Block 6/”Calypso” (where encouraging natural gas finds were reported) towards Block 3/”Soupia”, closest to Turkey’s own potential EEZ.
It is interesting – or, rather, ominous – to note international reactions to both incidents. The U-S were quite balanced over the Aegean islets incident, as were the British over the Cyprus EEZ one. From NATO (and EU Council Chair tusk) there was fuzzy talks; only European Commission President Juncker was more clear in his condemnation of Turkish activity in the Aegean.
Insofar drilling for hydrocarbons in the Cypriot EEZ is concerned, things are more nuanced – on the field. The initial shock ENI experienced was mirrored in the position taken by the Italian Government, especially following a meeting between A. Alfano – M. Cavusoglu: the Italian position was that means should be found so as to safeguard the interests of ENI (understandable), of the countries of the region (further to Cyprus, one cannot find but Turkey…) and of the two communities of Cyprus proper (that much is accepted by the official language used in Cyprus, also by the U.N.).
Still, of more importance is the fact that Saipem 12.000 was ordered to stand by, waiting for Turkish naval exercises to end – on February 22 – so as to resume presumably its voyage.
Even more promising – for the Greek-Cypriot side – is the information that Exxon Mobil, that was to start drilling end of June on its own Block 10 of the Cyprus EEZ, may be starting exploratory work with a vessel using underwater robots.
Last but by no means least, Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci added to the suspense by announcing that Turkey would claim Turkish-Cypriot rights on the island’s EEZ by starting exploration with the DeepSea Metro-II drillship that the Turkish oil company TPAO presently prepares for action.