Turkey's Erdogan announces new Black Sea gas find

ISTANBUL (AFP) – President Recept Tayyip Erdogan on Friday (June 4) announced a new natural gas discovery in the Black Sea that could help wean Turkey off its dependence on energy imports.

Erdogan last year announced a 405-billion-cubic-metre find in the so-called Sakarya field – the biggest ever discovery in the Black Sea.

He hopes to put bring the first gas from that find to consumers in time for Turkey’s centenary celebrations in 2023.

Erdogan said that further Turkish exploration work in the region resulted in the discovery of a new well with 135 billion cubic metres of reserves.

“The new discovery of 135 billion cubic metres was made in the Amasra-1 exploration well,” Erdogan said while attending a special ceremony in the Black Sea city of Zonguldak.

Turkey consumes between 45 billion and 50 billion cubic metres of natural gas each year.

Analysts have urged caution over the discoveries’ significance because deep sea drilling is expensive and recoverable reserves often prove to be far smaller than the size of the actual find.

There has been no independent audit of the Sakarya field published to date.

Erdogan has said that Turkey intends to exploit the wells without foreign assistance and would not need outside financing.

Turkey’s search for natural gas sparked an international crisis last year when it began conducting work in disputed waters claimed by EU members Cyprus and Greece.

The EU pulled back from its threat to expand existing sanctions on Ankara when Turkey pulled back its main exploration vessel and opened informal talks with Greece at the start of the year.