The new Sakarya gas field discovery will enable Turkey to reduce its energy dependence on Russian imports and increase its share of gas in its energy mix, according to Stephen O'Sullivan, a senior visiting research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.
O'Sullivan told Anadolu Agency that he considers last year’s discovery in the Black Sea as perhaps the largest offshore discovery in the world.
It can add a significant 135 billion cubic meters (bcm) of reserves to Turkey’s inventory, which can help the country with greater leverage in gas contract negotiations for future supplies, many of which are due for expiry this year.
This is the case with Russia, which has been Turkey’s main gas supplier in recent years.
"Obviously maintaining reasonable relations with Russia is important, as one day domestic gas may run out and Turkey will need Russia again, but it should allow Turkey to secure lower prices for its imports from Russia because of the competition," he said.
O'Sullivan warned of the potential technical difficulties and delays in setting an ambitious target for gas production from the Sakarya gas field by the centennial of the Turkish Republic in 2023.
"Two years from discovery to startup could be optimistic because of the need to build 160-kilometer-long offshore pipelines and a gas receiving station on the Turkish coast. However, clearly the government will give the project a lot of support and it is quite possible that the startup target will be achieved and the field will come onstream by 2023 with plateau production being reached in 2027-28," he said.
However, he remains assured that the government will press ahead with the project as fast as possible given the significance of the achievement for Turkey both commercially and strategically.
- Herald of further discoveries in Black Sea
John Roberts, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Global Energy Center, told Anadolu Agency that the Amasra discovery in the Sakarya field has the potential to improve Turkey’s overall energy position in the medium long term.
He said that it could contribute to a reduction in overall energy imports, especially gas, with the added advantage of Turkey gaining valuable experience and boosting its technological abilities in the area of field development.
Roberts advised that it usually takes several years to bring a major offshore gas field into actual operation.
"While some exploration wells may be turned into production wells in time for the 2023 anniversary celebrations of the foundation of the Turkish Republic, major production from Sakarya will take three or four more years," he said.
The additional estimated reserves in the Amasra-1 discovery of 135 bcm take the Sakarya field reserves up to 540 bcm, approaching the scale of those from Israel’s Leviathan field at 649 bcm and Egypt’s Zohr field of 850 bcm.
Although the Amasra discovery does not match that of Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field of at least 1,200 bcm, nonetheless, it could well herald in further discoveries in the Turkish Black Sea waters, he said.
He also maintains that the discovery will add to Turkey’s strong negotiating position in gas trade, with its ability to import pipeline gas from Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran, and liquefied natural gas from Qatar, Algeria, and Nigeria and even as far afield as the US.
"While the new discoveries ensure that Turkish plans to ensure plateau production of around 15 bcm per year are eminently attainable, Turkey will still need to import gas. But the Sakarya discoveries will strengthen its negotiating position with both existing providers and with potential new entrants into the Turkish market, such as Turkmenistan and northern Iraq," he explained.
After Turkey's historical gas discovery in the Black Sea last year, the Fatih drillship drilled the Turkali-1 and Turkali-2 testing wells along with the Amasra-1 exploration well located in the northern part of the Sakarya gas field.
Fatih is currently drilling the Turkali-3 testing well, while another drillship, Kanuni, is carrying out completion tests at the Turkali-2 well.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on June 4 that Fatih discovered 135 bcm in the Amasra-1 well, increasing Turkey's gas discoveries in the Black Sea to 540 bcm.
By Murat Temizer