Turkey's Piri Reis vessel is OK, says official

Turkey's Piri Reis vessel is OK, says official

Turkeys Piri Reis vessel is OK, says official

This file photo shows Turkish Piri Reis vessel sailing in the Mediterranean researching gas and oil. AA photo

A Turkish vessel continued a renewed round of gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean yesterday, a Turkish official said, denying media reports that said the vessel’s engine broke Oct. 12. The news came on the same day that Greek Cyprus announced plans for a second round of hydrocarbon licenses to prospect for gas off its shores.

The Turkish research boat Piri Reis spent the night conducting research in an eastern Mediterranean area earlier determined by the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO), Turkish official Seda Okay said, denying claims that the search had been curtailed due to engine failure. Okay said the vessel stayed at the Famagusta port of the island overnight Oct. 12 because of poor weather conditions.

Meanwhile, Greek Cyprus is stepping up procedures for a second hydrocarbon licensing round in its exclusive economic zone, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Praxoula Antoniadou said, adding that decisions on the issue were expected before the end of 2011, Cyprus news agency reported yesterday.

Commenting on press reports that the ministerial committee dealing with the issue of hydrocarbon exploration decided to expedite the second hydrocarbon licensing round in offshore blocks, Antoniadou said: “What is certain is that the next steps with regard to the exploitation of possible hydrocarbon reserves are being discussed at a high political level as well as at the level of the ministerial committee. What is currently under discussion is how to expedite procedures so we can proceed with the second licensing round soon.”

The Piri Reis is conducting geophysical research and has collected seismic data on behalf of Turkish Cyprus. “We have collected data from a 1,000-kilometer area so far,” the Piri Reis’ captain, Çağdaş Konuşur, said on the phone Oct. 12.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Northern Cyprus President Derviş Eroğlu signed an agreement in New York on the delineation of the continental shelf between the two countries in the eastern Mediterranean. The deal gives Turkey the green light to search for oil and natural gas inside Turkish Cypriot waters.