Since 1999 Greece and Turkey have concluded 52-53 rounds of exploratory talks on the delimitation of the continental shelf in the Aegean, pledging to avoid unilateral actions.
In April 2012, Ankara, pressed by the course of developments in Cyprus’ block 12 and the Eastern Mediterranean, defined Turkish blocks east of the Greek island of Kastellorizo. This area is considered by the Greek side and in accordance to the international law part of the Greek continental shelf. Turkey then issued an international public tender for seismic surveys in these blocks.
This is a unilateral action on the part of Turkey following Turkey’s FM position that Kastelorizo cannot be part of such a solution because it is in the Mediterranean, not the Aegean, a position rejected by Greece.
All 13 foreign companies addressed by Turkey to participate in this tender, apparently knowing that this Turkish action is contrary to international law and is therefore illegal, and perhaps, asking Washington’s opinion over the issue, refused to bid.
This led Ankara to rush to buy a research vessel, in order to make these surveys on its own and create a fait accompli.
The Turkish Petroleum Corporation (“TPAO”) completed negotiations for a long-term collaboration arrangement for the sale and reflagging of the 8-streamer 3D seismic vessel Polarcus Samur combined with the provision by Polarcus of seismic data acquisition, fast-track data processing, management and crewing services for the vessel over a 3 year period. The total value of the collaboration arrangement over the 3 year period, including the sale of the vessel, is approximately USD 213 million. TPAO will take delivery of Polarcus Samur in late January / early February.