Ocean Investigator, the survey ship of U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil, arrived at the island of Cyprus on Wednesday as political tensions with Turkey over gas exploration rights in the Mediterranean persisted.
The ship is due to carry out hydrocarbon exploration in block 10 of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ). A second vessel, the Med Surveyor, will arrive on Thursday, the Cyprus Mail reported.
Exxonmobil plans to carry out exploration ahead of possible drilling in the second half of the year. But Turkey blocked similar efforts by Italian energy company Eni last month, saying Turkish Cypriots in an unrecognised enclave in Cyprus’ north should get an immediate share of the revenue.
U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Kathleen Doherty said on Wednesday that Washington does not expect Turkey to cause any problems for the two vessels in Cyprus’ EEZ, the Cyprus Mail said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated in a speech on Wednesday that gas exploration off Cyprus should not take place without the involvement of Turkish Cyprus.
Ocean Investigator will remain at Cyprus’ Limassol port until March 24 to load equipment, but it might depart earlier depending on progress, the newspaper reported citing a company official.
Earlier this month, the U.S. military said it had bolstered the presence of its Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, raising speculation that U.S. ships would escort the vessels during their work.