ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s seismic research vessel Oruc Reis returned to waters near the southern province of Antalya on Sunday, Refinitiv data showed, a move that could ease tensions between Ankara and Athens over offshore natural resources.
NATO members Turkey and Greece have overlapping claims to continental shelves and rights to potential energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean. Tensions flared last month after Ankara sent Oruc Reis to map out possible oil and gas drilling prospects in waters claimed by Greece, Cyprus and Turkey.
Turkey’s navy had issued an advisory earlier this month saying that the Oruc Reis would continue operations in the area until Sept. 12.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had said the ship would continue exploratory operations for longer but no extension to the advisory was issued as of noon Sunday.
Refinitiv ship tracking data showed Oruc Reis, along with two accompanying vessels, had returned to a location just off the coast of Antalya on Sunday.
Seismic surveys are part of preparatory work for potential hydrocarbon exploration. Turkey has also been exploring for hydrocarbon resources in the Black Sea and discovered a 320 billion cubic metre (11.3 trillion cubic feet) gas field.
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