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Piri Reis: Turkey’s Boogeyman Set Sail to Eastern Mediterranean Sea

Turkey’s hydrocarbon research ship Piri Reis has been Greeks’ nightmare for years. As Piri Reis has the bad habits to perform its research near Greece’s territorial waters, Athens expects another Turkish provocation near the island of Kastelorizo. Friday morning Piri Reis set sail from the port of Izmir for the Eastern Mediterranean waters to start oil and gas exploration, near the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Cyprus and with the aim to challenge the drilling of Noble, offshore and  in the southeast of Cyprus.

Ankara became very upset against Cyprus and Israel  for drilling in the so-called common project for hydrocarbon. Cyrpus’s drilling for oil and gas is been carried out by the US firm Noble Energy near Israel’s recently discovered offshore gas fields of Leviathan that contains more than 450 billion cubic meters (15.9 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas. Deposits are also believed to lie inside Cypriot waters near the Israeli finds, which Cyprus is now exploring by licensing Noble Energy.

In a unilateral move and ignoring the International Law of the Sea, Turkey marked its marine borders with … Northern Cyprus, the part of the divided island which not international recognized. An offshore area that according to the ILS belongs to Cyprus Republic EEZ. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been foaming for quite some time over the Cyprus offshore drilling and has repeatedly ask the halt of the drilling. He has even threatened Israel with actions and sanctions. Moreover he demanded an official apology over the Mavi Marmara  incident in May 2010, when 9 turkish national lost their lives after an assault by Israeli Defence Forces.

 “Piri Reis will carry 10 people, including a geological engineer and a geophysics engineer, working for the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO). It is reportedly able to carry out two-dimension seismic surveys for 20 days. A few years ago, the vessel was used for a two-dimension seismic survey of Turkish territorial waters in the Mediterranean Sea.

On Wednesday, Turkey marked its marine borders with Turkish Cyprus for offshore oil and gas drilling in response to a similar move by the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot half of the divided island. Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız said on Wednesday that Turkey would be exploring off the northern half of the island.

However, he added that some areas earmarked for exploration by Turkey “clashed” with those of the Greek Cypriot administration. He did not rule out future Turkish exploration in those areas.

The deal gives Turkey the green light to search for oil and gas within Turkish Cypriot waters. Turkey said it would send a vessel to the region to launch its own survey this week, adding the ship would be escorted by Turkish warships.” (source: Today’s Zaman)

Nevertheless, according to the Turkish Press, Ankara ordered three of its warships to sail in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. “One of them will be in Turkish territorial waters, just 6 nautical miles offshore the Cypriot side, so that the residents of Paphos can see the ship. The other two will patrol the area.” (Hurriyet via

Furthermore, the warship will not intervene in drilling Block 12 as this in not included in the agreement between Turkey and northern Cyprus, according to the Turkish newspapers that also added that the Norwegian Company Veritas from which Turkey leased a seismic research vessel for additional hydrocarbon research, has ‘no reservations about surveys south of Cyprus.’. The lease contract is allegedly $20 million.

Turkey’s PM Erdogan has said also he would blacklist any energy firms working with Cyprus on resource exploration projects and that Turkey would not use military force to deter Cyprus from drilling in the eastern Mediterranean. (World Politics Review).

On Thursday, Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias told the United Nations General Assembly that Greek Cyprus would be willing to share the benefits of revenue from any gas find with Turkish Cypriots even before a peace deal on the ethnically divided island was reached. “It is for the benefit of Turkish Cypriots as well,” he said. I read somewhere on the internet, that the Turkish Cypriots want some 300 million euro.
The European Union has urged Turkey to refrain from actions that could harm the peace in the area.
Read also KTG-articles on Piri Reis and other research ships that upset Greeks and Greek-Cypriots alike HERE


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  1. nice link where you can follow its voyage live. She is almost at Chios Town at the moment.

    You can see and follow a whole lot of others ships for that matter. Just don’t expect to see warships. (Unless they are listed as tug, pilot etc. Like the US BIG HORN a huge military ops ship that has just left Souda Bay and is sailing north)

    • Turkish sailors having coffee at Chios? thanks for the link I had no time to add it in my post. Had it in older posts. whatever…

      • Well, it seems they drank their Turkish coffee on the way past. Pity, would have been nice to see them drink Greek coffee for once and then let Customs loose on them. Bet their papers are not conform the Hellenic Shipping standards. 😀

  2. Hi.
    Very informative post!Really like it !:)
    Will add a short link to your post on my humble blog.
    Keep up the great job!