Nemesis drill safeguards Cyprus energy search

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Multinational exercise Nemesis 2021 took place in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to test safety and security procedures amid Turkey intervention threats around energy exploration.

Aeronautical units and military personnel from Cyprus, Greece, France, the UK, the USA, Israel, Italy and Egypt, participated in the annual exercise.

Officials from energy companies in Cyprus gas exploration, including ExxonMobil, Total and ENI, also participated.

The multinational exercise was conducted for the 8th consecutive year as a part of the preparation of those involved in the energy program of Cyprus.

The Nemesis drill involved search and rescue, medical evacuation, and anti-pollution operations, with one scenario tasking Cypriot forces with liberating an oil rig and support ship that fell into the hands of terrorists.

France’s Total and Eni of Italy consortium plans to resume drilling in the first half of next year.

ExxonMobil and Chevron also hold licenses to drill off Cyprus.

“We recognize that the utilization of our exclusive economic zone comes not only with benefits but also with responsibilities, and I would like to assure you that the Republic of Cyprus is committed to adhering to them,” Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides said before Wednesday’s exercise.

Turkey says those areas where the exercise took place lie inside waters that Turkish Cypriots claim as their own and have licensed the Turkish Petroleum Company (TPAO) to conduct its own hydrocarbon search.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu repeated last week that no one would be permitted to “usurp our rights” and those of Turkish Cypriots to offshore gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean.

Cavusoglu said Turkish warships would defend the country’s continental shelf that Ankara says extends inside waters where Cyprus claims exclusive economic rights.

In February 2018, Turkish naval vessels prevented an Eni-leased drillship from conducting exploratory drilling in an area that Cyprus licensed out to the Italian firm.

Ankara has also recently announced it is sending a research vessel inside Cyprus waters.