For several years the country has been stepping up efforts to establish itself as a major energy player in the region
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Friday that Turkey had discovered in the Black Sea “the largest” natural gas deposit “in its history”, adding that his country would intensify its research in the eastern Mediterranean despite the tensions.
This announcement comes as Turkey has for several years been stepping up efforts to establish itself as a major energy player in the region and reduce its dependence on hydrocarbon imports which plague its fragile economy. The reserves unveiled on Friday will not be enough to make Turkey a major exporter, but they could encourage Ankara to continue its maritime research which has caused friction with neighboring countries in the Mediterranean.
During this speech in Istanbul, President Erogan clarified that these reserves were estimated at 320 billion cubic meters. The Turkish head of state assured that this discovery was of “historical importance for the future” of Turkey, which depends almost exclusively on imports, especially from Russia, to satisfy its growing appetite for energy.
“God has opened a door for us to unprecedented riches,” he said enthusiastically. “Our goal is to put Black Sea gas at the service of our nation from 2023”, the centenary year of the Republic of Turkey, he continued.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the discovery was made last month in the Tuna-1 exploration well by the drilling vessel Fatih (“the conqueror” in Turkish). The first indications “suggest that the discovered deposit is part of a much larger reserve”, added the Turkish head of state, without further details.
Turkey consumes between 45 and 50 billion cubic meters of natural gas every year, almost entirely imported. This represents around 11 billion euros, according to the energy market regulatory authority (EPDK). The discovery announced Friday “is not bad at all, but that does not change the situation either”, put in perspective on Twitter Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, director of the office in Ankara of the American institute German Marshall Fund.
“Although relatively small compared to other natural gas fields in the world, this one will help Turkey to reduce its energy bill”, underlined the cabinet Capital Economics in a note. “That said, there are reasons to be careful. It will take time to install the infrastructure necessary for gas extraction, ”he added.
President Erdogan aroused the expectation by saying on Wednesday that he would announce “big news” on Friday. Markets seemed somewhat disappointed, however, with some press leaks on Thursday citing more than double the volume of gas reported on Friday.
The Turkish lira was thus down slightly against the dollar after Erdogan’s speech, trading at 7.34 against a greenback.
The Turkish president also said that Turkey would accelerate its search for hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean in the coming months, ignoring the European Union’s calls for de-escalation in a context of growing tensions.
If all the Turkish captains are of the temple of that of the Kemal Reis, who obviously does not yet quite manage to grasp the subtle difference which exists between port and starboard; Europe will have completed its energy transition before the first cubic meter arrives safely