By Sergei Klebnikov
Saturday August 22, 2020
The natural gas find comes amid heightened regional tensions. TURKISH PRESIDENCY/MURAT CETINMUHURDAR/HANDOUT VIA GETTY IMAGES GETTY IMAGES
Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey had discovered its largest-ever deposit of natural gas in the Black Sea, a move that could help the country reduce its dependence on energy imports from other countries, including Russia.
- President Erdogan announced on Friday that Turkey made an historic discovery, finding a natural gas field holding 320 billion cubic meters in the Black Sea.
- “Turkey has realized the biggest natural gas find of its history in the Black Sea,” Erdogan said in a press conference, adding that more could still be discovered and the country is working to finish extracting it by as soon as 2023.
- If the natural gas reserve can be commercially extracted, it could help the country reduce its energy dependence on imports from countries such as Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan.
- Industry analysts said the sum of natural gas was notable, but not a “game-changer” that would materially alter Turkey’s finances or turn it into a regional energy hub.
- Erdogan said Friday that Turkey will accelerate operations in the Mediterranean, despite ongoing territorial disputes with Greece and Cyprus as it looks for oil and gas in contested waters.
“We are determined to solve our energy issue,” Erdogan said. “We will not stop until we become a net exporter of energy.”
Turkey is one of the biggest economies in the Middle East, and its recent natural gas discovery comes amid increased tensions in the disputed waters of the eastern Mediterranean. The country has been mired in territorial disputes with Greece and Cyprus. Both Germany and France have expressed alarm at the increased tensions: French warships have temporarily increased their presence, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier this week that the European Union was closely monitoring the region. Erdogan said on Friday that he also expects “good news” from energy exploration activities in the eastern Mediterranean.
“The question now is how much of this gas is recoverable,” Jonathan Lamb, a senior oil and gas analyst at Wood & Co., a Czech investment bank, told Bloomberg. “This is not clear yet. What the market really wants to know also is how much they can produce per year, but I don’t think they are in the position to say that yet.”