Erdogan announces historic Turkish gas discovery in Black Sea

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey on Friday announced its largest natural gas discovery in the 320 billion cubic meters (11.3 trillion cubic feet) area of ​​the Black Sea, which President Tayyip Erdogan said is part of even larger reserves And may arrive as soon as 2023.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addressed the nation on August 21, 2020 in Istanbul, Turkey. Murat Setinmuhurdar / PPO / Handouts Through REUTERS

If gas can be extracted commercially, the discovery could help Ankara cut its current dependence on imports – from countries such as Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan – for much of its energy needs.

“Turkey has realized the largest natural gas of its history in the Black Sea,” Erdogan said, adding that Turkey ultimately aims to become a net energy exporter.

The Fatih drill ship in the Tuna-1 zone, about 100 nautical miles north of the Turkish coast in the Western Black Sea, began work late last month.

“This reserve is actually part of a much larger source. God is ready, many more will come. As a country that relied on outside for gas for years, we now look to the future with more security, ”said Erdogan. “There will be no restriction until we become a net exporter in energy.”

Any shortfall in Turkey’s energy import bill, which was $ 41 billion last year, would boost the government’s finances and help reduce a chronic current account deficit that has helped Lira record against the dollar .

“I can safely say that with economic and exploratory capacity, we will remove the current account deficit from our country’s agenda,” Finance Minister Barat Albairek said while speaking to Fatah’s deck.

Lira has strengthened TRYTOM = 3 since Erdogan on Wednesday told energy officials for the first time that he had “good news” to announce. However it dropped as it broadened the search and was down 0.4% at 1330 GMT.

Officials and analysts cautioned that it could take up to a decade for gas from the Black Sea that would come online and would require billions of dollars of investment to build infrastructure for production and supply.

The gas discovery is located in 2,100 meters deep water, said Energy Minister Fatih Donmez, drilling extends 1,400 meters below sea level. “Our operations have not ended here. We will go down another 1,000 meters… and the data shows that it is possible that we will deliver gas there too. ”

Turkey is exploring hydrocarbons in the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea – where its survey works in disputed waters have led to protests from Greece and Cyprus.

Erdogan said Turkey will accelerate operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

Additional reporting by Nevzat Devranoglu; Writing by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Dominic Evans and Christina Fincher

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