Turkey Starts Exploration Drilling in Black Sea

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Turkey has begun drilling a second borehole on the Sakarya natural gas field in the Black Sea where it made its largest-ever discovery earlier this year with the Tuna-1 (Danube-1) well.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced last month that the Tuna-1 discovery holds 405 billion cubic metres of natural gas. The field is located some 100 nautical miles north of the Turkish coast.

According to a Reuters article, quoting Turkey’s Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez, the Fatih drillship, which made the initial discovery, is now working the second well called Turkali-1. The drilling is scheduled to last for 75 days.

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It is worth reminding that Dönmez said in September that the Fatih drillship would be joined by another drillship – the Kanuni.

Turkey’s oil company TPAO confirmed this in late October via social media when it published a video of the Kanuni drillship arrived at the Haydarpasa port where the drilling tower would be removed from the rig to enable the drillship’s crossing under the Bosphorus bridges on its way to the Black Sea.

If the gas can be commercially extracted, the discovery could be transformative for Turkey and decrease the country’s dependence on Russia, Iran, and Azerbaijan for energy imports.

According to Rystad Energy, in the case of Turkey developing the Tuna-1 discovery, it could potentially save the country up to $21 billion in import costs. Another upside to the discovery development could be the possibility of narrowing Turkey’s chronic current account deficits.

Turkey expects first gas flow from the Sakarya field in 2023. Although some experts saw it as very difficult to achieve in such a short time span, Erdoğan doubled down on that statement last month by saying: “By 2023 we will reach our goals. We will leave a big and powerful Turkey for our next generation through our 2053 vision and we will not hesitate”.

Reuters added that one source close to the matter said that an annual gas flow of 15 billion cubic metres was envisaged from 2025.

Turkey also started exploring for hydrocarbons in the Mediterranean, where its survey operations in disputed waters have drawn protests from Greece and Cyprus and led to displays of military force via navy exercises in the region.