Following several major oil discoveries in recent months, Turkey is optimistic about its energy potential. The country’s oil and gas company, Turkish Petroleum (TPAO), has accelerated its exploration activities in recent years, which has proven fruitful. Recent oil discoveries follow a major 2020 natural gas find in the Black Sea, which is expected to support the government’s goal of gaining energy independence.
In December last year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the discovery of 150 million barrels of net oil reserves, with a value of around $12 billion. The reserves are located at the Gabar mountain in the Sirnak province, which borders the Kurdistan Region in Iraq and Syria. In 2022, Turkey produced around 5,000 bpd of oil from four wells in the province. The find is one of the top 10 onshore discoveries in Turkey last year, after several successful exploration activities.
Turkey hopes to increase its daily oil output to 100,000 bpd in 2023, having already seen a significant production increase in recent years. The state-owned oil and gas company TPAO had an output of around 40,000 bpd in 2017, which increased to 65,000 bpd in 2022. TPAO greatly expanded its exploration and production activities during the pandemic, achieving 34 discoveries in 2021, adding 71 million barrels of reserves. The company intends to build upon this success by drilling 12 more appraisal and production wells in 2023, with hopes the field could achieve an output of 25,000 bpd by the end of the year. Related: New Debt Limit Deal Commits To Speeding Up Energy Projects
Turkey has gradually been solidifying its position in the international energy market through its oil activities, as well as through the deepening of ties with Russia. The country has provided a key route for Russian oil and gas at a time when many countries are enforcing sanctions on Russian energy. Ankara doubled its imports of Russian crude last year, processing it in Turkish refineries before shipping products to the EU and U.S. Turkey is also developing its own gas potential, having discovered estimated reserves of over 710 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas in the Black Sea in 2020.
And this month, TPAO announced the largest onshore crude oil discovery, holding an estimated 1 billion barrels. The find was also made in the Sirnak province in a well that currently produces 10,000 bpd. The company plans to drill back-to-back appraisal wells and conduct well tests to have a full-field development plan by the end of this year.
Based on these impressive discoveries, Turkey now hopes to soon achieve energy independence. This would mark a huge shift in the country’s energy security, as it relies heavily on oil imports to meet its demand at present. Strong investment in exploration activities has been part of Turkey’s strategy to assess the country’s potential to develop domestic resources, to reduce its energy dependence on external resources. To support this aim, TPAO deployed drill ships and seismic vessels to accelerate exploration activities.
Turkey could also achieve natural gas independence, after starting gas transmission in the Sakarya Gas Field in April. The Turkish Minister of Energy and Nature Resources, Fatih Dönmez, told media sources that he believed the value of the natural gas resources to be over $500 billion. The reserves could be big enough to provide gas for all of Turkey’s households for the next 35 years.
And just this week, Dönmez announced that TPAO was seeing signs of oil and natural gas reserves in the eastern Black Sea. This could lead to additional discoveries that would dramatically increase the country’s gas output forecasts for the coming decades. Recent exploration success follows heavy investment by the Turkish state in offshore infrastructure, such as drilling platforms and pipelines, to facilitate extraction and transportation activities from the Black Sea to onshore facilities.
The first phase of production will see an output of around 10 million cubic meters (mcm) a day, which will eventually increase to 40 mcm. Revenues from Turkey’s increased oil and gas production will go towards further exploration activities to ensure the country exploits its fossil fuel potential while global demand is still high. With many countries rejecting Russian energy, oil and gas prices have soared over the last year, encouraging several new energy powers to accelerate the development of their resources to cash in. Shortages in the global energy supply have also made states around the globe race to secure their energy through increased domestic production, as well as by strengthening regional supply chains.
While it might be late in the game, Turkey is showing significant oil and gas potential following TPAO’s extensive exploration activities over the last three years. And after a year of global shortages and price increases, these discoveries are looking even more valuable. Turkey now hopes not only to gain its energy independence but also to solidify its position as a major energy hub between Russia and Asia and Europe.
By Felicity Bradstock for Oilprice.com
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