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Turkey plans to deploy a third drillship to explore for natural resources in the Black Sea, its energy minister Fatih Dönmez told Anadolu Agency in an interview on Saturday, while tensions in the Mediterranean over Turkey’s gas drilling campaign seem to subside.
Turkey’s third drillship, Kanuni, will begin exploration in the Black Sea in early 2021 and will operate alongside the drillship Fatih, which made earlier this year a natural gas discovery in the Black Sea, which Turkey says is its largest-ever gas find.
Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) is trying to de-escalate the tension in the eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey has been drilling for gas in waters encroaching on what Cyprus and Greece claim as their territorial waters.
Tensions between EU members Greece and Cyprus on the one hand, and Turkey on the other, flared up again in recent months after Turkey resumed drilling and exploration for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean in waters that Greece and Cyprus consider part of their territorial waters.
The heightened tension in the eastern Mediterranean and the growing rift between Greece and Turkey, who are also both part of the NATO alliance, has had the EU consider possible sanctions on Turkey over the drilling in the eastern Mediterranean.
According to Refinitiv Eikon data reported by Reuters on Monday, a Turkish exploration vessel has left the area in which it was operating off Cyprus and returned to Turkey’s coast—a move that the EU welcomed and said would ease the tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that “The tensions in the Mediterranean have been very high because of Turkey's drilling activities in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone and exploratory activities in Greek waters. It is good that there is now a reliable dialogue between Turkey and Greece that has begun.”
“We therefore expect that Turkey from now on abstains from unilateral actions,” von der Leyen said last Thursday, adding that in case Ankara renews such actions the EU “will use all its instruments and options available.”
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com