The Eastern Mediterranean is rapidly evolving into an El Dorado energy. Gas reserves in the Cypriot Exclusive Enonomic Zone (EEZ) and adjacent to Israel and Egypt have created a new backdrop in the region.
Seeing Turkey lose the energy game, Ankara demands a fateful share in the reserves for both the pseudo-state and itself. Relying on its well-known “diplomacy” of weapons does not seem to recede and the next period is seen as particularly critical in the light of recent developments.
Geological studies carried out over the years by various international bodies have provided strong evidence, to the degree of certainty, that the maritime area between Crete and Cyprus within the area that Greece rightly considers to be its potential EEZ, are rich in energy resources.
All these years scientific measurements have shown that the bottom region of the Eastern Mediterranean was a promising energy area.
Near the area, and more specifically south of it, is the rich Nile basin gas and oil fields, while in the east the Israelis have recently discovered two huge gas fields, Tamar and Leviathan.
For ten years Turkey granted the state-owned company TRAO four areas north and northwest of Cyprus but also a large (5th) research area, extending from Kastelorizo to southern Crete.
80% of this area was within the potentially Greek Exclusive Economic Zone.
In the Leviathan deposits in the EEZ of Israel, just east of the Cypriot EEZ, the potential recoverable reserves reach 450 billion m3 of natural gas, in Tamar the discovered reserves are 240 m3, while in the Cyprus is a deposit with the potential reserves of 300 billion m3.
According to Israeli estimates, the first deposit could yield 142 billion cubic meters of natural gas, while the depth of the drilling is 5,000 meters. The depth of the sea in this area reaches 1,680 meters, while the deposit is 50 miles from the city of Haifa.
Israel’s second gas field, Leviathan, is estimated to contain twice as much gas as Tamar.
Similar is the situation with the marine area belonging to the EEZ of Cyprus, where there are significant natural gas fields.
According to a study published by USCG, in the Levantine Basin, which mainly divides between Cyprus, Syria and Lebanon, there are 3.66 trillion cubic meters of recoverable gas and about 1.7 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil.
The report notes that these are survey data from 2000-2002 that have been re-evaluated from 2008 until recently. The study also reports that the wider area of the deposit extends to the Egyptian Delta on the one hand and the Turkish Delta on the other.
But here, as in the case of the Aegean, Turkey wants to change the status quo because while under international law Greece has the right to exercise its rights in this maritime region, Turkey is again trying to threaten violence (enjoying relative arrogance) to cancel any move by the Greek government.
For these reasons, Turkey periodically sends its “research” ships to the area, accompanied by warships, in an attempt to intimidate the already hesitant Greek political leadership, so that the latter may put in time any thoughts of exploiting the energy resources that the area has.
As early as 2008, the authoritative international firm IHS (Information Handling Services) informed oil companies by publishing a map that Turkey had granted to the state-owned company TRAO four areas north and northwest of Cyprus for a period of 10 years as well as a large research area extending from Kastelorizo to the south of Crete.
In January 2009 and after Malene Ostervold’s research mission, IHS itself published another map containing the four areas north of Cyprus but modified the other area so that the “encroachment” would not be so provocative.
Nevertheless, 50% of the area still covered Greek EEZ. Officially, however, there was no effective Greek reaction at that time, nor an attempt to effectively thwart Turkish plans.
At this point it is important to point out the important position of the Kastellorizos island complex, since, thanks to the fact that each island under its Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982) has its own continental shelf, Greece can exploit its resources that lies in Herodotus Basin.
A possible exclusion or “deregulation” of the Greek right to apply the EEZ on the basis of Kastelorizo’s existence would result in a large and critical part of the Greek Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) being granted to the Turkish EEZ, which now borders Greece, Cyprus and Egypt, while otherwise the Turkish EEZ is practically “cut in the middle” and will not extend south until Egyptian.
According to studies by the French Petroleum Institute and based on the proximity of this submarine region to the Nile Basin, which contains a lot of natural gas, it is estimated that the Greek section of the Herodotus Basin contains 1 to 3 cubic meters of natural gas.
To understand the benefits of exploiting these resources, it is worth noting that replacing the 20% of imports of petroleum products imported into Greece each year for domestic consumption would benefit $2.2 billion per year (at $70 per barrel),with a total daily intake of 430 barrels.
There was also the November 2008 mission of the Norwegian research vessel Malene Ostervold for oil exploration in areas of the Greek Kastelorizos shelf and within the Greek Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as well as dispatch to the same area of the Pyrene Riviera design.
Ankara, in addition to any settlement on the continental shelf, has made it a strategic goal for Kastelorizo not to be included in the EEZ.
Then Turkey “threw itself into the battle” of claims. In late 2013 and early 2014, the ship began operating illegally in areas seized by Turkey’s state-owned oil company TPO and granted to the pseudo-state.
According to the maps of Turkey’s claims, Land 3 of the Republic of Cyprus is also within the unlawful Turkish claims.
Turkey has continued its threatening tactic with increasing intensity. Preventing the Italian Saipem 12000 platform from drilling on Plot 3.
Then, and more specifically last May, Turkey submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe maps defining the EEZ and its continental shelf ignoring the existence of the Kastellorizos island complex that belongs to Greece and Cyprus.
The maps also show the outrage that Turkey disputes 11 of the 13 maritime segments of the Cypriot EEZ and more specifically, segments 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12 and 13 and Maritime Area Crete – Kastellorizo - Cyprus!
Turkish claims may, however, be overturned by both the Dodecanese concessions of 1932 and 1947 and the 1982 Montego Bay Convention on the Law of the Sea, but that does not discourage it from employing the power of its weapons to achieves what is rejected by international treaties.
What we can safely say is that Turkey is not prepared to let Greece proceed to declare the EEZ on the basis of geography, including Kastelorizo. This excludes it from its proximity to the Egyptian EEZ while at the same time removing it from the deposits south of Crete, which it also claims!
An example of the Turkish claims is an article by the Turkish admiral et al. Cihat Yaycı’nın that the plots to be exploited south of Crete 15 and 20 coincide with the continental shelf of Turkey (!) And Libya respectively, raising substantially the issue of property rights in Ankara.
The military dimension
It is estimated that in 2028 the Turkish Navy will have 1 amphibious light-aircraft carrier with the prospect of building a second, 4 frigates of TF-2000 domestic design, development and construction (targeting 8 vessels), 4 Istif-class frigates. 4 Ada and MILGEM class corvettes. 4 Barbaros / Salih Reis Classified MEKO 200 TN IIA / B Frigates, 6 T-214 TN AIP submarines, 6 Type-209/1400 submarines Gur, 4 Preveze Submarines Type-209/1400 submarines, 1 LPD Amphibious Ship 8 helicopters and 3 UAVs, 6 Kilic-II class FPB-57-052C ICT, 3 Kilic-I class FPB-57-052B class, 2 Yildiz class FPB-057-52A rockets, 3 Dogan class FPB-57 rockets, 16 YTKB-400, 2 Akar Class Fleet Refueling Boats, 1 Submarine Rescue Vessel and 2 Towing Rescue Vessels.
The light aircraft TCG Anadolu (L-408) is the most ambitious plan of the Turkish Navy. Its construction began on April 30, 2016 and is expected to be completed in 2021. All ship weapon systems will come from domestic industries such as Aselsan and Havelsan. The length of the boat is 232 meters, the width 32 and the draft 6.9 meters.
Its speed is 21 knots, while its 15 knots autonomy is 17,000 km. For its missile protection, Anadolu will have two Phalanx systems and one RAM. It can carry up to 4 landing gear or 2 landing gear for the purpose of running a landing business. The largest capacity of the ship will of course be the transport of aircraft and helicopters.
Specifically, Anadolu will be able to carry 6 to 8 F-35Bs (expected to be ordered in the future), 4 T-129 ATAK helicopters, 8 AS-532 or CH-47F carriers, 2 anti-submarine helicopters. S-70B Seahawk or end 2 UAV ANKA or Bayraktar.
With regard to the new TF-2000 frigates, it is planned to complete the design in 2020 and begin the construction of the first ship in 2021 with the final target of 8 vessels that will be fully equipped with both electronic and weapon systems.
The Turkish area defense frigates will have 2 Mk49 RAM missile launchers of 21 missiles, 5 vertical missile launchers of 8 missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, 2 double torpedo tubes, 16 ATMACA anti-ship missiles, 8 new GENISA CESA AES radar missiles, cruise and 1 main gun of 127mm. They will also carry 1 or 2 Seahawk helicopters combined with UAV STOVLs and 4 Rapid Remote Control Guns (STAMP, STOP).
The vessels will exceed 7,000 tonnes in displacement and 130 meters in length and will have an extended degree of automation for reduced crew. It will also have a reduced RCS radar footprint and make use of a GODLAG-class drive system.
Also an important addition to the new multifunction radar is a home-grown weapon consisting of Atmaca Active Radar guidance radar missiles that will replace the Harpoon BlockII and have a range of 180km and reach 300 km and a domestic kale-type gas-propulsion engine carried by SOMs.
For the air defense, as the ships will be area defense, the missiles will be medium and long range (30-100 km) designed by ROKETSAN as part of the development of a domestic air defense system for both the vessels and the Turkish aviation. the sector seeking cooperation with Russian companies seeking to be a rocket version of the S-300 / S-400 systems respectively.
Alternatively, naval versions of the HISAR-A / -O missiles may be used. The seriousness of the Turkish leadership is evident as the construction of such a complex integrated system such as air frigates moves in a gradual gradient as it first started with the MILGEM corvettes and continues with the 4 ISTIF class frigates. The total of Turkish-designed systems will reach 65% and will be constantly increasing to reach the maximum TF-2000.
Class “I” frigates are enlarged to ADA class corvettes and will have a displacement of 3,000 tons, a length of 113m, a crew of 125 people and a gun of 76 mm. Oto Melara Super Rapid, 2 x 12.7 mm. Aselsan STAMP, 1 x 35 mm. CIWS (naval version of Korkut), 16 sail Mk. 41 VLS for 64 x RIM-162 ESSM, 16 x Roketsan ATMACA, 2 x 324 mm. Mk. 32 for torpedoes Mk. 46 while they will have a shed and a helipad.
The first “I” series ship is expected to be delivered to the Turkish Navy in 2021.
At the same time, the Turkish Navy is building shipments of amphibious vessels. The most recent example is the construction of two L-402 BAYRAKTAR and L-403 SANCAKTAR vessels.
The first one joined the Turkish Navy on April 14, 2017 while the second was wounded on July 16, 2016 and is currently undergoing tests for its accession. The class has a maximum displacement of 7,254 tonnes, 138 meters long, and has a maximum speed of 18 knots.
Its weapons include two 40mm Oto Melara guns, two 20mm twins and two Mk 15 Phalanx missiles, while a helicopter helicopter is available at the rear for a large helicopter.
Electronics include a SMART MK2 3D radar for air / surface navigation and control, two ASELFLIR 300D infrared observation systems, torpedoes, laser point alert system, Link 16/22 communications system, 5-way GENESIS CMS battle management system . and ARES-2N support measures system. The vessels can carry 350 soldiers, 20 battle tanks, or about 24 to 60 vehicles of different sizes.
However, apart from the strength of the Turkish Navy’s surface vessels, we must not overlook its air force, which can undoubtedly play an important role in the promotion of Turkish interests thanks to the large number of means acquired and the equipment provided. these aircraft have.
The Turkish Navy’s MELTEM program resulted in the acquisition of 6 CN-235D / K MPA aircraft and 6 ATR72-600T MPA aircraft equipped with AMASCOS integrated combat management system. In addition, three more CN-235-100M MPA aircraft are part of the Coast Guard’s contribution to better surveillance of the seas.
The Turkish Navy’s submarine force is to be augmented with the 6 new T-214 TN AIP submarines that will literally be able to control the sub-Mediterranean region of the Mediterranean without being noticed and without needing refueling for many days.
Of course, we should not forget the presence of Turkish Air Force in the wider area of the Eastern Mediterranean, with its huge air base in Iconium which hosts 4 B-737-700 MESA AWACS, while the F-16C Block 40 and 40 are already stationed at the base. F-4E-2020 Terminator as well as AS532AL / UL SAR helicopters.
Hundreds of miles east of Iconium, Incirlik Air Base hosts 7 Turkish Air Force KC-135R tankers, which with their continuous refueling can hold Turkish fighters in the air for several hours in the event of a crisis.
Dalaman’s advanced air base acquired 6 new TAS-V NATO HAS shelters.
With the completion of the construction of these shelters, the total number of shelters available has increased to thirteen, while it is worth noting the construction of a complex of buildings, an aircraft car park and the link between the runway and the runway in the same area.
Corresponding upgrades to the construction of 13 new shelters were also carried out at the Antalya air base, while gaps in the air defense network were covered by the development of new radar systems in the area.
These Turkish Air Force radars will complement the image provided by the HF OTH Radar of the traditional Naval Surveillance System (IMSS) UZUN UFUK at the Data Fusion Center.
Thanks to this combination, that is, the image of the radar and shortwave radar covering the horizon, the Turkish military and civilian leadership will be able to monitor anything flying and sailing in the sea between Crete and Cyprus from at least 200 miles off the coast of Asia Minor.
The Greek reaction
The first and foremost for Greece in order to be able to defend its energy capital is the strengthening of the MoF and the PA. Of course, the margins are given and leave no room for optimism.
But, in general, what matters is the supply of new frigates and naval cooperation aircraft. For the first time the situation is at an early stage as there is a process in place to supply the 2 + 2 French frigates Belhara but it is too early to come to a safe conclusion.
Undoubtedly, the supply of FREMM frigates with the SCALP-NAVAL (MdCN) strategic projectile would be an excellent addition to the IP but this supply has given Belhara its place.
The procurement of AFNS aircraft is in the process of being implemented as the 4 P-3B upgrade program proceeds normally with the only delay being on this 5th aircraft of the so-called intermediate solution.
Aircraft capable of “ocean” operations have a large radius of action and are considered suitable for carrying out patrols and maritime surveillance over the full range of potentially Greek EEZs.
Another addition that could be considered is the acquisition of one or two Fleet refueling vessels with increased helicopter transport capabilities and support for Search and Rescue missions.
These ships could also be built with Community funding since missions that could be carried out include emergency response operations, humanitarian aid and in general any mission other than MOOTW (Military operations other than war).
The most important thing for controlling such a vast marine area (from the Greek perspective) is to gain the ability to know what is happening beyond the horizon.
Cyprus is 550 kilometers from Crete and 400 kilometers from Rhodes. Continuous surveillance of this area is Greece’s first concern and this can be achieved by domestic operators at relatively low cost, in times of economic downturn.
The deployment of two HF OTH Radar in the East Crete area and an ADS (Automatic Dependant Surveillance Identification System, AIS or IFF transponders identification) is a one-way street for Greece.
Thanks to the long range of these radars (200 km), the Greek government will be able to know at any time what is happening in this maritime area in a bow that starts off the coast of Asia Minor and extends up to a few miles from it.
Another solution that would complete the coverage of the area would be the installation of a corresponding station on the west coast of Cyprus, thus filling the gap of 95 miles left by the Greek radar in Crete, since the distance between Crete and Cyprus is 295 miles.
One supply could be the purchase of aircraft in a flying tanker for the US. Although the F-16 Block 52 plus fighter aircraft operating from Crete have compliant external tanks, it is certain that the existence of at least 4 flying tankers in Crete would upgrade the operational capabilities of the F-16 Block 52 + / Adv.
Flying tankers would allow fighters to operate without tanks, increasing their flexibility and their ability to carry more cargo if needed longer distances and longer.
At the energy level, Greece’s response to this emerging situation is two-fold: The first concerns the implementation of energy alliances and the second is the reinforcement, as much as possible, of military power, since without it there can be no guarantee for the implementation of energy. programs.
A major milestone was the signing of the EastMed pipeline between Greece, Cyprus and Israel.
The purpose of the EastMed (Eastern Mediterranean Pipeline) is to transport natural gas from the Levantine deposits (Israel, Cyprus) to Europe via Cyprus, Greece and Italy.
Based on its design, the largest section (1,300 kilometers) will be undersea, passing through areas up to 3 kilometers deep. So, if built, it would be the largest and deepest submarine pipeline in the world.
Turkey, of course, opposes this pipeline, as what it wants is after the shuttle between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriots has partitioned it to pass through Turkish territory and be directed from there to Europe.
However, this plan is likely to wreak havoc with Cyprus and Greece rightly aiming at the creation of the Euro-Mediterranean pipeline, which will allow Cyprus to have a safe and reliable route for its own exports.
At the same time, the projected capacity of the pipeline will be 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year, with the potential to increase to 16 billion cubic meters. In addition, it will enable the gas market in Cyprus to increase by 1 billion cubic meters.
Since July 2014, IGI POSEIDON, a subsidiary of DEPA and Italian Edison, has been managing the project.
At the same time, Greece should make a decisive move to exploit the plots south of Crete, part of which Turkey has reportedly targeted, however illogical it may be.
The September 27 initialing of research concessions on two marine “plots” south and southwest of Crete, as well as one in the Gulf of Cyprus, authorizes ExxonMobil and Total to carry out initial investigations.
At the same time, the concession to the Total-Edison-ELPE consortium for investigations in the June 2 issue of the Corfu maritime area, although not relevant to Turkish claims, nevertheless shows satisfactory mobility in the field of hydrocarbon investigations in Greece.
Plots south of Crete are the most important and critical for the Greek economy, along with those of June.
Of course, in order to do all this, key issues need to be resolved: These are the EEZ proclamation and its settlement in relation to those of Libya, Albania, Egypt, Cyprus and finally Turkey, but insisting on its non-inclusion makes it is very difficult to reach an agreement on the size and complex of the 14 islands.
The Mediterranean does not leave much room for optimism that the matter will be resolved soon.
Translated from ProNews.