Military Capabilities

Turkey-Greece-Cyprus dispute over Mediterranean hydrocarbons risks disruption to shipping routes and localised naval incidents in 2018

19 January 2018

Key Points

  • Stand-offs between the navies of the rival countries could well extend to warning shots being fired, particularly within Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), with hotspots likely to be Block 6 and subsequently Block 3. An escalation involving targeted fire, however, remains unlikely.
  • There is an elevated risk that companies with offshore exploration licences from Cyprus will see cancellations of any existing contracts they have in Turkey, as well as being blacklisted from future tenders.
  • Provocative Turkish naval exercises are likely to cause disruption to shipping routes passing near the island. Moreover, there is a risk of Turkish harassment targeting vessels travelling between the drilling sites and onshore support bases in Larnaca and Limassol, including arbitrary inspections of vessels, potentially resulting in temporary detention of the vessels and their crews.


Turkey’s newly purchased hydrocarbon drillship Deepsea Metro II, intended for oil and natural gas exploration in the disputed area off the coast of Cyprus, arrived in Turkey on 2 January.

Turkey’s acquisition of the Deepsea Metro II, which it purchased from South Korea for USD210 million, came in response to Cyprus stepping up exploration and drilling operations in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around the island. Turkey disputes Cyprus’s internationally recognised EEZ, arguing that a substantial portion of it falls above the Turkish continental shelf (see map).

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