This analysis is made by Evangelos Kokkinos – Pentapostagma Enimerosis and translated exclusively for SouthFront
Drillings have begun on the Delphini target of block 10 in Cyprus by the ExxonMobil / Qatar Petroleum joint venture.
ExxonMobil’s Stena Icemax drill has already reached the depth of 2 kilometers. The drilling is estimated to last about two months and, will be carried out on a coral reef following the model of the Egyptian Zohr.
Considering the huge interests at stake in the region, it is worth noting that apart from the US Arleigh Burkes deployed strategically in the Mediterranean, a British nuclear-powered submarine has also entered the region – according to reports.
In particular, a United Kingdom Astute-class submarine (UGM-109E Tomahawk TLM) has been ‘hovering’ around the region of interest since September while, reportedly, still remains in the eastern Mediterranean area.
Although the nuclear-powered British submarine formally assigned mission involves the monitoring of a Russian underwater Kilo-class operating in the region, it is equally likely that its position near the operationally active area of Cyprus waters is not at all accidental.
The latest developments in Cyprus are extremely serious and, following the continuous threats by Turkey – including the recent threats of the Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on “Turkish maritime ownership” within the Cypriot EEZ – the situation could potentially become volatile if such threats were supported by actions and could destabilize the region.
As for the drilling operations, they will be monitored in real-time by the Nicosia ExxonMobil operational-headquarters, together with the Cyprus Ministry of Energy, an ExxonMobil special team that came specifically for drilling in Cyprus, and the drilling management group in the Cypriot EEZ, set up there for months. A similar practice was also followed during the first drilling in “Aphrodite” and up to the “Delphini”.
In Texas, they also track the development of drilling at ExxonMobil, as well as key technical associates that provide significant support, such as the American Halliburton. In London, Stena’s experts will also be watching the drill progress in tandem.
According to reported information, the ExxonMobil – Qatar Petroleum joint venture has deliberately chartered the Stena Icemax drilling rig at a cost approaching $200,000 a day, despite the fact that they could commission an alternative drill at lower cost. The particular choice was favored by the contractors for a number of reasons. Specifically, in addition to numerous of other advantages, a special technological feature allows it to proceed even when obstructed by an ore, eliminating the possibility that the drill gets damaged or, progress get interrupted.
At the point of drilling, on the southwest outskirts of the underwater mountain “Eratosthenes”, the water depth is slightly greater than 2,000 meters, whereas the drill is expected to reach a depth of nearly 3,000 meters below sea-floor making the total depth of drilling being about 5,000 meters.
A few days ago, drills were shipped with three consecutive helicopter flights from the Larnaca Airport (all flights are made in daylight for safety reasons) while, the support operations will continue to take place throughout by the supporting ships carrying the equipment required for this drilling stage and other essentials.
At the same time, the large base of sludge production and treatment, as well as other materials required for drilling in the port of Limassol, are already in full operation. It is one of the most modern units of its kind, built and managed by Halliburton.
According to all present-day information, there are no actions or, strong presence of Turkey navy in the wider region around the vicinity of the drilling, as was the case in most of the previous drilling operations within the Cyprus EEZ.