Ships and aircraft from eight nations take part in annual drills to boost safety and security procedures on vessels and oil rigs off Cyprus’s southern coastline amid ongoing tensions with neighboring Turkey over competing claims to hydrocarbon reserves.
The “Nemesis” exercise involves search and rescue, medical evacuation and anti-pollution operations with one fictional scenario tasking Cypriot forces with liberating an oil rig and support ship that fell into the hands of terrorists.
The exercise, in which the US, France, Italy, Britain, Israel and Egypt are taking part, is being carried out in waters where the Cyprus government has licensed a consortium made up of energy companies Total of France and Eni of Italy to drill for oil and gas. The consortium plans to resume drilling in the first half of next year. ExxonMobil and Chevron also hold licenses to drill off the east Mediterranean island nation.
“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 adhere to them,” Cypriot Defense Minister Charalambos Petrides says.