Erdoğan announces discovery of additional 135 bcm of natural gas in Black Sea

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced that Turkey discovered an additional 135 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas in the southern Black Sea, increasing the total reserves in the region to 540 bcm, local media reported on Friday.

In August 2020 Erdoğan announced the country’s biggest find, saying the Fatih drill ship had discovered 405 bcm of natural gas in the Sakarya field in the western Black Sea, where Turkey plans to start production in 2023.

“Our Fatih drill ship made a discovery of 135 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the Amasra-1 borehole in the Sakarya gas field. … Our new drilling operations around [the borehole] are continuing. God willing, we expect good news from this region,” Erdoğan said on Friday during an opening ceremony in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak.

Turkey uses two of its three drill ships to speed up field development. Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said in May that one drill ship would open new test wells to determine firmer reserve figures while the second one will upgrade testing wells to production status, in a sign that the size of reserves would be upgraded after each drill.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) expects to pump gas from the Sakarya field to its main grid in 2023, with sustained plateau production starting in 2027 or 2028. A pipeline stretching at least 160 kilometers will be required to connect new wells in the region to the main grid, while Ankara will need to construct a receiving station within two years to match its timetable.

Opposition politicians and dissident journalists took to Twitter following Erdoğan’s “good news,” which led to skepticism and ridicule due to the poor economy of the country, where the Turkish lira, by far the worst performer in emerging markets this year, plunged to an all-time low of 8.88 to the US dollar before recovering some ground on Wednesday.

“This is such [great] news that every time we discover more [natural gas] we end up with an increase in [natural gas] prices,” Veli Ağbaba, deputy chairman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said sarcastically in a tweet.

According to Turkish media reports, natural gas prices in Turkey increased by 1 percent five times in the first five months of 2021, once each month.

“He [Erdoğan] pumped people up again. Aren’t there people around him who could say they’re not buying it [his good news]?” the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Garo Paylan said.

“More good news,” journalist Sedef Kabaş said, reminding that natural gas prices rose by 34 percent a month after Erdoğan revealed the country’s biggest discovery last year.

Turkey, which has little oil or gas, is dependent on imports from Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran as well as LNG imports from Qatar, the United States, Nigeria and Algeria.

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