Erdogan Promises ‘New Era’ for Turkey After Black Sea Gas Discovery

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the members of his ruling party at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, March 20, 2018. Erdogan has called on the United States to "show respect" and "walk with" its NATO ally, in new criticism of Washington over its engagement with Syrian Kurdish militia. …
AP/Burhan Ozbilici

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodğan said on Friday that Turkey has made its largest-ever discovery of natural gas in the Black Sea.

Erodğan says 11.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas was recently discovered at a site in the Black Sea that Turkish vessels began exploring in July. “Turkey made the biggest discovery of natural gas in its history in the Black Sea,” the president said during a speech in Istanbul, Deutsche Welle (DW) reported Friday. Erdoğan said he expects the gas to reach Turkish consumers starting in 2023.

“My Lord has opened the door to unprecedented wealth for us,” he added.

Should the reserves be found viable for recovery, they could alleviate Turkey’s costly dependence on foreign energy imports. Last year, Turkey spent over $41 billion on energy imports, mainly from Russia.

Ulrich Leuchtmann, head of foreign exchange research at Germany’s Commerzbank, told DW that the gas discovery is “not the game-changer that some were expecting” after early reports suggested that the find could supply Turkey with sufficient gas to meet its energy needs for the next two decades. Erodğan on Wednesday told energy executives he would announce “good news” on Friday that will herald a “new era” for Turkey.

Energy analysts caution that the gas find has yet to be confirmed as recoverable, adding that it could take Turkey several years and billions of dollars in investment before the country can begin gas production.

News of the Black Sea find comes amid heightened tensions between Turkey and Greece over Ankara’s oil and gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.

“Warships from both NATO members have been shadowing each other after Turkey sent a research ship to look for potential undersea oil and gas deposits in disputed waters,” DW reported on Friday. Greece said this week it will encourage the E.U. to impose sanctions on Turkey if the country continues its illegal exploration of natural resources in the Mediterranean within Greece’s exclusive economic zone.

Emboldened by the Black Sea gas discovery, Erdoğan vowed this week to ramp up Turkey’s exploration in the Mediterranean by the end of 2020, despite resistance from Greece.

“We are going to speed up our operations in the Mediterranean with the deployment by the end of the year of the Kanuni (drilling ship), which is currently in maintenance,” Erdogan said in an address in Istanbul, according to the report.

“God willing we expect similar good news,” he added, referring to Turkey’s Black Sea gas find.

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