Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced that the country had found significant natural gas resources in the Black Sea.
The discovery of 320 billion cubic metres (11.3 trillion cubic feet) reserve, will help Turkey cut its dependence on energy imports if the gas can be commercially extracted.
Turkey’s drilling ship Faith, which has been operating in and exploration zone known as Tuna-1 since late July, made the find about 100 nautical miles north off the Turkish coast.
Although, Erdogan didn’t reveal whether the 320 billion cubic metres referred to total gas estimates or the amounts that could be extracted, he did say it could come onstream as soon as 2023.
Erdogan said: “This reserve is actually part of a much bigger source. God willing, much more will come,” adding that there would be no stopping until Turkey “becomes a net exporter in energy.”
The country almost completely relies on imports from Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran to meet its energy demands, which stood at $41bn (£32bn) last year.
With any reduction in the energy import bill not only boosting government finances but also help ease chronic current account deficit, which puts pressure on the Lira.
Speaking from the deck of the Faith drill ship, Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said: “We will remove the current account deficit from the agenda of our country.”
The gas find is located in waters 2,100 metres deep, Energy minister Fatih Donmez said, with Erdogan announcing operations in the Mediterranean would accelerate.
Turkey has been exploring hydrocarbons in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean — where its survey operation has drawn protests from Greece and Cyprus — with Greek and Turkish warships shadowing a Turkish survey vessel colliding there last week.