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Turkey expands offshore drilling fleet amid tensions with Greece, Cyprus

A helicopter flies over Turkey's drilling ship, 'Fatih' dispatched towards the eastern Mediterranean, near Cyprus, on July 9, 2019. (Turkish Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)
A helicopter flies over Turkey's drilling ship, 'Fatih' dispatched towards the eastern Mediterranean, near Cyprus, on July 9, 2019. (Turkish Defence Ministry via AP, Pool)

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey is acquiring a new drilling ship to search for natural gas in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, the country’s president announces today, amid unresolved tensions with Greece and Cyprus over Ankara’s offshore energy exploration.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tells legislators from his ruling party that Turkey is expanding its fleet of drilling vessels to four, describing the new ship as a high-tech vessel.

Energy Minister Fatih Donmez says on Twitter that the ship will be capable of drilling at a depth of some 3,600 meters (11,800 feet).

Last year, Turkey’s offshore energy exploration efforts raised tensions with Greece and Cyprus. Warships from Greece and Turkey shadowed each other in the Aegean Sea after Turkish search vessels and drill ships prospected for hydrocarbons in waters where Greece and Cyprus claim exclusive economic rights.

Ankara rejects those claims, saying they infringe on the rights of Turkey and of Turkish Cypriots on the divided island of Cyprus.

Turkey has announced that it has found around 540 billion cubic meters (130 cubic miles) of natural gas in the Black Sea. The government says it plans to extract and use the gas by 2023, reducing its dependence on energy imports.

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