Türkiye’s first seismic-research vessel operates round the clock for country’s energy independence

Country has purchased Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa vessel in 2012 for $130 million to conduct oil and gas exploration in Eastern Mediterranean and Black seas

Sibel Morrow, Fuat Kabakcı  | 29.10.2023 - Update : 30.10.2023
Türkiye’s first seismic-research vessel operates round the clock for country’s energy independence


Türkiye's first seismic research vessel "Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa," which has scanned more than 50,000 square-kilometer in the last five years to search for oil and natural gas within the country's territorial waters, is currently getting prepared for its next mission at Trabzon port where it briefly anchored for scheduled maintenance.

Set to celebrate its 100th anniversary, Türkiye has discovered vast amounts of oil and gas in recent years.

Türkiye has expanded its hydrocarbon exploration activities to its territorial waters and created a large fleet of drilling and seismic research vessels to reduce its reliance on imported energy.

With this aim, Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa and the country's second seismic research vessel called the 'Oruc Reis' have been combing both the Black and the Eastern Mediterranean seas for hydrocarbons.

Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa, who joined the fleet in 2012, has been operating for the Turkish Petroleum International Company (TPIC) since 2018.

The ship is named after Hayreddin Barbarossa, also known as Hayreddin Pasha, an Ottoman corsair and admiral of the Ottoman Navy.

The vessel scanned an area of 10,054 square kilometers in 2018, 11,507 in 2019, 7,418 in 2020, 8,000 in 2021 and 10,580 square kilometers in 2022. This year, the ship is scheduled to research 10,600 square kilometers.

The ship also joined the natural gas exploration activities in the Sakarya gas field, where Türkiye discovered its first natural gas reserve of around 710 billion square meters.

After exploring the offshore Kastamonu in the Black Sea in 2021, the ship headed to the Eastern Black Sea region and scanned the locations of Unye from October 2021 to 2022 and Fatsa from December 2022 to August 2023.

Still conducting its seismic exploration mission in the Eastern Black Sea, the ship has briefly anchored at the port city of Trabzon to meet its logistics needs and perform the necessary maintenance.

Ships go through maintenance to conduct their next mission

"After successfully completing our mission in the Black Sea exclusive economic zone, we have been getting ready for the next one at Trabzon Port, where we have been carrying out the ship's planned maintenance," the vessel's captain Muzaffer Nur told Anadolu, which spoke to the captain during a tour of the ship.

Captain Nur emphasized that in addition to having state-of-the-art technology on board, the ship is also manned by crew, each of whom are competent professionals in their respective fields.

Among these cutting-edge technologies is the dynamic positioning system, he said.

"With this system, our vessel can perform its tasks even during the 6-scale Beaufort wind force, which has the ability to form large waves," Nur explained, referring to an internationally accepted empirical measuring system.

Almost 10,000 square kilometers per year is scanned

Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa Chief Field Geophysicist Hilmi Mert Kucuk said the crew follows the instructions of Turkish state oil company Turkish Petroleum to determine the locations to be scanned.

Noting that the vessel has been carrying out exploration activities in the Black Sea waters for more than two years, Kucuk said the ship has been planning to search an average area of 10,000 square kilometers per year.
He said the ship has six seismic cables, each of which is 8 kilometers in length and four separate departments, including positioning, monitoring, mechanics and data processing.

Explaining how a seismic-research vessel works, Kucuk compared it to the magnetic imaging used in medicine.

"We use acoustic waves, in other words, sound waves, to image underwater. We use air guns to inject high-pressure air into the water," Kucuk said.

The explosion creates a sound wave that reaches the seabed, passes through structures with different physical properties inside the ground and refracts back.

He further explained that the data recorded by the receiver cables is collected in the computer room, "which can be considered the heart of our operations."

The records are delivered to Turkish Petroleum on magnetic tapes, he said. "After that, the data is subjected to a series of processes. The experts at Turkish Petroleum interpret it to determine whether that particular subsea area is feasible for the oil drilling purpose."

Vessel collects data from depth of 8 kilometers underwater

Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa was purchased for $130 million and is capable of collecting 2D and 3D seismic data from a maximum depth of 8 kilometers underwater.

Almost 84 meters in length and 21,6 meters in width, the total weight of the vessel is almost five gross tonnes. It boasts a heliport, too.

It uses a diesel driving force and has the ability to work at glaciers. With its seismic sound source, high-quality catalytic converters, double hull and water cleaning systems, it is known as one of the most environmentalist vessels.

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