Turkey has purchased its third offshore drilling vessel which is to be delivered next month, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, adding that the ship will begin operations in 2020.
Speaking to lawmakers from his ruling AK Party in Ankara, Erdogan said the new ship was an “ultra-maritime drillship” that can drill down to 11,400 meters but did not specify where the ship would operate, said Reuters.
Turkey acquired its third drillship, after the Fatih and the Yavuz, for $37.5 mln as tensions over gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean escalate.
With these two ships already operating in Cyprus waters, the third ships will most probably also be dispatched to the Mediterranean region later this year.
Turkey has only recently acquired drilling vessels to challenge Cyprus in an energy race to tap discoveries made in the region.
Having bought the first two vessels from Norway, Turkey purchased the “Sertao” drillship from the UK at auction for much less than its market price.
The predicted market value of Sertao is around $120 mln but Port Talbot officials in the U.K. wanted a quick relief as the ship idled unsold in the Welsh town for nearly two years.
It agreed to sell it for such a low price to amortize the soaring berth costs and the depreciation of its value.
The drillship was produced by Samsung in South Korea. The vessel was used by Brazil’s Petrobras between 2012 and 2015.
The Marshall Island-flagged drillship has a length of 227 metres, a width of 42 meters and a draft of 12 metres and can reach down to 11,400 meters of depth and drill for 3,000 metres.
The maximum drilling depth capability of Fatih and Yavuz is around 12,000 metres.
Since May 2019, when Ankara sent its two drilling vessels to illegally drill inside Cypriot waters, it has continued to upscale its activity in the East Med.
Athens and Nicosia have opposed Turkey’s actions while mobilising EU leaders to approve targeted sanctions against Ankara for the incursion into Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.
Built in South Korea by Samsung in 2012, the Marshall Islands-flagged drilling ship was used by Brazil’s state-run company Petrobras until 2015.
Oruç Reis and Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa, Turkey’s seismic survey ships, have also been conducting seismic researches in the Mediterranean.
After striking a maritime deal with the UN-backed government of Libya, Turkey announced its plans for new oil and gas exploration in maritime zones which infringe on Cyprus and Greece’s sovereignty.
Both Nicosia and Athens have slammed the Libya accord as having no legal validity.