Monday, October 03 2022
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Athens braces for drillship’s departure

Athens braces for drillship’s departure

The suspense over what direction the Abdulhamid Han drilling vessel, the fourth of the Turkish Petroleum Company (TPAO) fleet, will take will end on Tuesday.

Once again, the start of the exploratory drilling will be announced in the presence of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from the port of Tasucu on the southern coast of Turkey, a few nautical miles from the Turkish-occupied Cypriot Karpas Peninsula.

It is customary for reasons of navigation safety for the relevant navigational advisory, or Navtex, to be issued at least 48 hours before the start of the search, but the fact that it was pending (at least until late Monday night) suggests the celebratory dimension that the Turkish leadership wishes to give to the departure of the Abdulhamid Han.

Indicative of the atmosphere cultivated by Ankara is the statement made by Erdogan on Monday regarding the departure of the drillship.

“To date, in our maritime jurisdictions, we have not allowed any planning or action to take place without us, and we will not allow it,” Erdogan said.

For his part, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu echoed similar sentiments, noting that his country was defending sovereign rights in the Eastern Mediterranean. He said that “the Greek and Greek-Cypriot duo attempted to send nine ships to our continental shelf. We prevented these with the measures we took both on the front and at the table. And tomorrow the ship Abdulhamid Han will sail for its first operations in the Mediterranean.”

The assessment in Athens up until Monday remained that the Abdulhamid Han will sail around Cyprus. The most likely scenario remains that drilling will start in the 2D and 3D areas around the occupied Karpasia Peninsula, either north or south of it.

In Nicosia and Athens, the highly probable scenario is that it will head to Block 6 of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), half of which, in Ankara’s perception, lies on the Turkish continental shelf.

Another possibility is a combination of the Abdulhamid Han’s activities in Blocks 5 and 6 and possibly further west, on the limits of the potential Greek continental shelf. In any case, Greece’s armed forces are on alert should Turkey choose such a course.

The possibility of sending it west of the 28th meridian, within the maritime areas between Crete and southwest Rhodes demarcated between Athens and Cairo since the summer of 2020, is considered limited.