Turkish warships blocked the route of Saipem 12000 of the Italian energy company ENI on Friday night which was sailing to the “Supia” drilling target at sea plot 3 in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The Turkish vessel asked the Saipem 12000 captain to sail away from the area, alleging it had been secured for military exercises via a Turkish Navtex.
The captain of Saipem 12000 ignored their instructions and continued on his course. Nicosia informed Rome of the incident, noting that it had issued anti-navtex, which annulled the illegal Turkish Navtex within the Cypriot EEZ.
The incident continued until late last night, while the captain of the Saipem 12000 was instructed from the ENI company in Rome to stay in the area. The drilling rig was about 30 nautical miles off the shores of Cyprus.
It is the first times since drilling operations have begun in the area that Turkey has adopted such an aggressive stance.
Commenting on the tension, government circles in Nicosia noted the importance of Cyprus’ participation in PESCO by providing infrastructure to military forces of EU member-states. Both France and Italy have shown interest in stationing their Navy ships in a naval base in Mari, and this is not unrelated to the interest expressed by French company TOTAL and the Italian ENI in the EEZ of Cyprus.