Turkey boosts Black Sea natural gas reserves with new discovery and existing offshore work

Firat Kozok and Beril Akman, Bloomberg December 26, 2022

(Bloomberg) — Turkey boosted its estimate of natural gas reserves in the Black Sea by nearly a third, thanks to appraisal work at an existing field and a separate discovery, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Dec. 26.

Turkey now predicts its offshore fields hold around 710 Bcmg, a significant boost as it tries to diversify away from imports that meet nearly all of the domestic consumption.

The increase comes mainly from the Sakarya field where reserves are now seen at 652 Bcmg, up from 540 Bcmg previously, Erdogan said in Ankara. The revision was the outcome of an appraisal project by an international energy company, Erdogan said without naming it.

Another 58 Bcmg was found in another offshore field nearby.

“This new discovery will open the door for new ones. We’ll start drilling new wells as soon as possible,” Erdogan said in a press conference after a cabinet meeting.

Reserves in the Sakarya find, already the largest ever in the Black Sea, appear to be much larger than originally assumed. The revision also comes at a critical time for Erdogan, who faces general elections in six months.

Despite government subsidies, electricity and heating bills have soared in the past year, partly because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that began in February.

Turkish consumer inflation is running at a near quarter-century high of over 84%, while energy prices have risen even faster. The government announced four rounds of natural gas price increases this year, straining household budgets and leading to widespread discontent.

The Sakarya field will begin feeding gas into the Turkish grid from the first quarter of 2023. Before the latest reserves boost, officials expected the Black Sea find to meet about one-third of Turkey’s domestic needs when peak production is achieved.

Under the original development plan, Turkey projected inaugural gas output in 2023 at an annual pace of around 3.5 Bcmg. The objective is to raise that to about 15 Bcmg annually within four years of the first production, roughly one-quarter of the European Union’s current output.

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