Turkey discovers major Black Sea natural gas reserves

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says 320 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves found by drill ship Fatih in Black Sea

Turkey discovers major Black Sea natural gas reserves
Drillship Fatih

Turkey’s president on Friday announced the discovery of major natural gas reserves in the Black Sea, near the Turkish coast.

"Turkey has made the biggest natural gas discovery in the Black Sea," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the historic Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul.

The country's drillship Fatih found some 320 billion cubic meters (11.3 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas, said Erdogan, announcing the “good news” he had promised the public earlier this week.

Turkey aims to have the natural gas ready for public use in 2023, he said, adding that new natural gas finds in nearby areas of the Black Sea region are likely.

All the required testing, analysis, and engineering studies have been completed at the Tuna-1 well – the site of the discovery – now renamed the Sakarya Gas Field, after a nearby Black Sea province, he said.

“The reserves found in this first well are only part of much richer resources,” Erdogan said, saying he hoped similar good news would come from Turkish exploration in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Fatih began its current work on July 20.

The Fatih's 103-meter (338-foot) tower was disassembled in Istanbul to enable the ship’s safe passage beneath bridges spanning the Bosphorus Strait before its journey north to the Black Sea.

The vessel set sail on May 29 from Istanbul to the Port of Trabzon on the Black Sea, where it reached its destination for reassembly on June 6.

Turkey to step up work in the Eastern Mediterranean

Turkey has conducted nine deepwater drillings with the Fatih and Yavuz drilling vessels in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, said Erdogan.

Turkey will step up its work in the Mediterranean Sea at the end of the year with its Kanuni drillship, currently, under maintenance, he added.

Last week, Turkey resumed energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean after Greece and Egypt signed a controversial maritime delimitation deal.

The agreement came days after Ankara said it would postpone its oil and gas exploration as a goodwill gesture.

But after declaring the Greek-Egyptian deal "null and void," Turkey authorized the Oruc Reis research vessel to continue its activities in an area within the country's continental shelf.

The ship will continue its two-week mission until Aug. 23 along with the vessels Cengiz Han and Ataman.

Turkey has consistently opposed Greece's efforts to declare an exclusive economic zone based on small islands near Turkish shores, violating the interests of Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean.

Turkey has also said energy resources near Cyprus must be shared fairly between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) – which has issued Turkish Petroleum Corp. a license – and the Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus.

Erdogan has said the only solution to the dispute lies through dialogue and negotiation and urged Athens to respect Turkey’s rights.

Aiming to be an energy exporter

The president added that Turkey will start drilling natural gas wells, drawing up production plans, and launch construction.

“Turkey will not stop or take a rest until it becomes a net exporter in the area of energy,” Erdogan said.

He stressed that Turkey did its drilling and seismic research activities without depending on foreign sources.

"We redefined our country's national energy and mining policy in 2017,” he said, adding that the country implemented these policies “meticulously and resolutely.”

He congratulated all the officials and workers who contributed to the process and also thanked Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez, and their teams.