Natural gas found: How will the discovery of gas in the Black Sea affect Turkey?

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced that Turkey has made the largest natural gas discovery in its history in the Black Sea.

Announcing on Friday that the natural gas reserve discovered in the Sakarya Gas Field, known as Danube-1, is 320 billion cubic meters, Erdogan said, “New natural gas discoveries are highly likely.”

Erdoğan said, “The goal is to offer the Black Sea gas to the use of our nation in 2023.”

Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez said on Saturday, “With the discovery, we expect a serious decrease in our imports. We are creating the infrastructure that our citizens can use natural gas at much more economical prices.”

Dr. Volkan Ediger, Professor of Energy Systems from the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences at Kadir Has University, answered BBC Turkish’s questions about the curious issues about Turkey’s natural gas discovery after President Erdoğan’s statement, which he called “a historic good news for our country.”


Why is President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement a “good news”?

There is a terrific oil syndrome in the Republic of Turkey. The Turkish people are tremendously dependent on oil. He thinks that the gold of the earth is a sea of oil and that this sea of oil will definitely be extracted one day. There are even rumors such as: “Foreigners do not find it, they prevent it, ours finds it, but they cover it with concrete”. This created an incredible syndrome in the Turkish people.

This is the first time since 1934 that such an important discovery has been made in Turkey regarding gas. Oil was discovered in the Raman field in 1948. 50 or 60 years later, in our seas, which have been little explored until now, such a discovery is being made.

While Turkey was the country with the highest exclusive economic sector in the Black Sea, only 23 wells were drilled. Most of these wells are also on shallow shores. Wells drilled at a depth of 100 meters and 200 meters of water…

In addition to the historical process, our dependence on foreign energy is also on the line. We get 75 percent of the energy we consume from outside. For this, we spend an average of 50 billion dollars from the budget only on energy imports. This is a significant part of our current account deficit.


Is President Erdoğan’s “2023 target” realistic?

This is the first well. After this well, one or two more wells should be drilled, and the same discovery should be confirmed there. Once confirmed, we need to drill the detection wells.

These detection wells show the geometry-3-dimensional distribution of the reservoir we find under the ground and the porosity-permeability of the stones, the flow state of the liquid and gas in it. Once we’ve done that, we need to sit down and do some modeling. We need to find out where we can produce. After that, we need to drill production wells. It is necessary to drill production wells on the fixed platform and start producing from there. We need to store what is produced there. We need to lay the natural gas pipeline from the warehouse to the land. It is necessary to connect it to the main network or to transmit it to wherever it is to be consumed.

All these processes seem a bit difficult. Unless, of course, a serious Turkish miracle is created. When we look at the experiences in the world, a 6–7-year process seems normal for this. If this happens in 1-2 years, we would be very pleased. I hope it can be achieved.

You used the phrase “miracle.” What should be done to speed up the process of extracting natural gas?

There is nothing that cannot be done. If this is the focus of the Republic of Turkey, it can be done if you use all your material resources and human resources here. There is nothing that cannot be done. But as I said, it is of course necessary to carry out miraculous work and plan for such a miracle to happen. I hope it will happen. He is our greatest wish.

There have been reports in this region that Petrobras and ExxonMobil have found natural gas and have given up on extracting it because the cost is too high. Previously, it was announced that “natural gas was found in the Black Sea”. Are the allegations true? How is the discovered natural gas different from the previous ones?

5 deep wells were drilled in the Black Sea. From 2005 to 2011… The first well was off Hopa. We drilled jointly with BP in 2005 and 2006.

We usually made them partners with foreigners, we did not participate in any of their expenses. They did all the expenses. We made a production sharing agreement which we call a “production sharing agreement”. BP couldn’t find anything. Later, Petrobas-ExxonMobil drilled Sinop 1 in 2010. Chevron pierced Yassıhöyük. From behind, ExxonMobil pierced Kastamonu.

Here, only TPAO paid all its expenses and drilled a well called Sürmene-1. He had no foreign partner.

All these companies said there was no oil there that could go into production. Because of the cost of a well, I know BP, for example, spent $200 million there. BP spent all that money and left.

If you get on a plane, take a heavy stone in your hand, throw it out of the window, drill it, and oil will come out of it. There is not an inch of space in the world where oil does not come out. The climatic environments that allowed the formation of oil have been almost everywhere.

The important thing here is the proven reserve. It means the net amount that you can extract and sell under the ground in the current economic and technological conditions. You write down the expense. You calculate the present value of the proven reserve. You look at the difference between the two. If you can’t get out the money you invested with more or more interest, if you say, “I’m not in this business.”

The Fatih ship was said to have started drilling on July 20. To what do you attribute the rapid conclusion?

Well, it was a little fast, of course. The well is not finished either. It will be drilled 200 meters. 100 meters were drilled. Half of the well is yet complete. I think it’s a bit early too. I don’t know why it happened.

No matter what party he is from, no matter what level he is; Politicians want to give such happy news, they love it. They prioritize it a little bit more, they put it at the top of their agenda.

Time seems to be short, but I hope it is true, we pray that there will be more new ones in our country. We state that we will be happy.

The Reuters news agency reported that 800 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves were found. But the announced reserve is 320 billion cubic meters. How is this figure determined?

Think of a sponge. That sponge has pores, and the pores are in contact, communicating with each other.

Imagine that there is water in this sponge, and it is 1 meter below the ground. This is how oil is a liquid that has entered a porous rock like a sponge. Oil is liquid and natural gas is gaseous.

We find the total volume of this sponge through seismic studies, drilling data, and geological studies. We multiply the height of the width and length. We calculate the number of pores in it.

If the number of pores in the volume is 10 percent, we take that ratio, and say, “That’s how much oil or gas there is.” Of course, it is not possible to remove all of them due to capillary pressure.

We determine a percentage of production, what we call the “factor of production”… For example, we say, “I can extract 80 percent of this under these conditions.” We multiply the total figure found by 80 percent. A figure emerges.

If we drill 3, 5, and 10 places to increase the probability, we can get enough data to average this sponge, that sponge. The figure we say, “We have this much oil or gas” would then be even more realistic.

Will the discovery of 320 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves reduce Turkey’s dependence on foreign countries?

We consume 50 billion cubic meters of gas per year. And we produce about two percent of that from our own internal resources. Let’s assume that we immediately buy them all from the outside. 350 billion cubic meters meet our 6-year needs. This is of course important.

We pay about 40 billion dollars a year to buy this much gas. So, if we don’t pay it for 6 years, it makes $250 billion. That’s a lot of money. So even if we found 10 billion cubic meters, let alone 300, of course, it is very, very good. Because we are an extremely dependent country. We get 75 percent of the energy we consume from outside. The more we can reduce it, of course, is profit. But can we move from a consumer position or an importer position to an exporter position? Of course, we can’t.

But if natural gas is found at those lower levels, it will be found in new wells to be drilled, and if the number grows… Israel did. In 2010, they found a field in the Eastern Mediterranean called Leviathan. Israel has changed its axis from an importer to an exporter and today sells gas to Jordan.

Of course, the amount there is a little bit bigger, and Israel is a very small country. It has a consumption of 5-10 billion cubic meters. He sells the rest. It is not a gas-consuming country as big as ours.


How will the announced natural gas discovery affect Turkey’s foreign policy?

If we stay at 320 billion cubic meters, it doesn’t mean much. If we buy 50 billion cubic meters from Russia for 10 years, we get 40 billion cubic meters. If we’re paying $40 billion, we’re paying $35 billion. We make some profit. he stays with it. Of course, how much we’ll spend to extract the gas, that’s a separate issue.

But why is it important for Turkey? Because for years, unfortunately, Turkey was a country that did not seek its own seas. And with these three vessels that were taken, we have a drilling vessel today, we have a seismic vessel. We search our own seas with our own staff, many of whom are our own staff. We are opening a new phase. This is very important.

We would like to pass on the know-how of this to us. Let the Turks work with everything in the operation of those ships so that no foreigners are needed. Let’s look for more. The more you search, the better your chances.

Even if there are not 300 but 50 billion cubic meters, it is very important for me. A new dimension has been added to the oil exploration sector, which has been going on since 1934. These are the things that a country surrounded by the sea on 3 sides should have done maybe 50 years ago.


Is there a possibility of a similar discovery in the Eastern Mediterranean?

Hopefully, I wish… The biggest difference between the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea is this: There is no problem between the countries in the Black Sea. The quietest, calm, harmoniously divided into sectors in the world sea. They drew the share line in the middle, everyone got their share. There are no problems with the neighbors. He is a great advantage.

The second big advantage is that we are the largest territorial water in the Black Sea. We own the sea. Therefore, searches can be made more easily there.

In the Mediterranean, there are a lot of geopolitical debates. There are countries that are in contention. There are interventions from outside. It has Russia, it has America, and the eyes of the whole world are there. Problems are harder to solve because the problems there are more complicated. Of course, it is much more difficult than the Black Sea.


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