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Erdoğan launches Black Sea gas deliveries ahead of elections

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday launched Turkey’s first delivery from a Black Sea gas reserve a few weeks ahead of a general election as Ankara aims at energy independence, Agence France-Presse reported.

The ceremony comes as Erdoğan braces for a tight race on May 14 in what is widely seen as the most consequential vote in Turkey’s modern history.

In 2020, the country discovered gas reserves off the coast of Zonguldak in the Black Sea region, which Erdoğan hailed at the time as Turkey’s largest-ever natural gas field and a way to wean the country off its dependence on energy imports.

In June, Turkey started the construction of an underwater pipeline connected to the seabed from the port of Filyos — around 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of İstanbul on the Black Sea coast.

The facility will begin producing 10 million cubic meters of gas daily in a first phase — which Erdogan said is expected to reach 40 million cubic meters a day after other wells go into operation.

Experts say 10 million cubic meters of gas per day would meet around 6 percent of Turkey’s annual consumption, which stands at 60 billion cubic meters, delivering a boost to the economy.

“This is a historic milestone on Turkey’s path to energy independence,” Erdoğan said at a ceremony in Zonguldak broadcast live on Turkish television.

“When we reach full capacity, we will meet 30 percent of our country’s gas needs” from the Black Sea reserves, he said.

Turkey received 40 percent of its gas from Russia last year. It also imports gas from Azerbaijan and Iran, and Ankara has been seeking ways to diversify supply, especially after Russia launched its war on Ukraine last year.

Inflation in the country is running at 50.5 percent, and the currency has lost value, making the cost of living hard to bear for most Turks.

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