As part of the groundwork for the planned EastMed natural gas pipeline, Greece, Cyprus and Israel have leased a research vessel to conduct seismic surveys between Cyprus and Crete, and also between Cyprus and Israel.
With the initial plan for the Nautical Geo to begin surveys for hydrocarbon deposits in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone not materialising, the vessel is now expected to sail off the coast of Crete, inside the Greek EEZ, though details regarding what kind of work it will be carrying out and when have not been made public.
The move comes as Turkey has announced that it will be expanding its search for natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean and conducting surveys in the area between the coast of Asia Minor and the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus, putting additional pressure on Nicosia and also on Athens, which is concerned that Ankara’s plans may include surveys south of Crete. Athens, however, is also keen to maintain the relative calm in relations with Ankara following a very tense couple of years.
In the meantime, Athens is also working closely with Cairo to expand energy cooperation within the context of the maritime borders agreement signed by Greece and Egypt. Athens is also eager to further strengthen relations with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias planning to travel to Cairo on Tuesday for a summit of the Arab League, where Greece has observer status.