Three possible routes of Turkish drillship
Tuesday’s departure of Turkey’s Abdulhamid Han drilling vessel for the eastern Mediterranean has, as expected, prompted discussions about the range of escalation that Ankara may choose in August.
Judging by the way in which the Turkish Petroleum Company (TPAO) usually operates, drillships engage in activities in areas where extensive exploration has taken place. This means any area east of the 28th meridian (i.e. south of Rhodes and further east), as far offshore west and north of Cyprus, is a potential target. The areas west of the 28th meridian, either within the area delimited between Greece and Egypt or in areas included in the so-called Turkey-Libya Memorandum, are less likely.
Any movement west of the 28th meridian (in the eastern Mediterranean or the Aegean) will be perceived as a serious escalation by Turkey.
Current data suggest the most likely areas for exploratory drilling are, firstly, in the area north of Cyprus, either in an area belonging to Turkey or in the so-called “continental shelf” of the entity in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus. If this entity licenses TPAO, it is likely the Abdulhamid Han’s activities could extend to the area around the Turkish-occupied Karpasia Peninsula.
Secondly, it could also move in areas clearly within the delimited EEZ of Cyprus to the southwest of the island. In such a case, the northern part of Block 6, whose southern part is being drilled by the Italian-French Eni/Total consortium, is one of the obvious targets. Blocks 4 and 5 are also possible targets to the southwest of the island, as is Block 3 in the southeast.
Another possibility is for it to move in the areas east of the 28th meridian, south of Rhodes to six nautical miles off Paphos.
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