Amid tensions, Turkey expands its offshore drilling fleet

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey is acquiring a new drillship to search for natural gas in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, the country’s president announced Wednesday amid unresolved tensions with Greece and Cyprus over offshore energy exploration of Ankara.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his ruling party lawmakers that Turkey is expanding its fleet of drillships to four, describing the new vessel as a high-tech vessel.

Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said on Twitter that the vessel could drill at depths of around 3,600 meters (11,800 feet).

Last year, Turkey’s offshore energy exploration efforts sparked tensions with Greece and Cyprus. Warships from Greece and Turkey followed each other in the Aegean Sea after Turkish search and drill ships searched 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 Turkish Cypriots on the divided island of Cyprus.

Turkey has announced that it has found about 540 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the Black Sea. The government says it plans to extract and use the gas by 2023, making it less dependent on imported energy.

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