The national oil firm of Türkiye, Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO), declared earlier this month that it would begin producing natural gas from a gas field in the Black Sea in March and pumping it into the national network, which energy analysts believe can cut Türkiye’s expensive bills for energy imports and help to mitigate the steep inflation that has been battering the country.
The discovery of the Sakarya gas field in the Black Sea in 2020, with reserves estimated at 540 billion cubic meters (bcm), is considered a breakthrough in Türkiye, a country that has relied largely on imported oil and gas. Official figures show that in addition to another gas field discovered later near the Sakarya field, the country’s natural gas reserves in the Black Sea total 710 bcm, which are valued at approximately 1 trillion U.S. dollars on the global market.
“This was a new development and will have a positive impact on Türkiye’s economy,” Oktay Tanrisever, a scholar of foreign policy at the Middle East Technical University in the capital city of Ankara, said in an interview with Xinhua.
He pointed out that even though the Sakarya field is the country’s first major gas project, it took the TPAO only 32 months to convert the reserves into products that can be used by Turks as the country is scrambling to fight high inflation, which is partly caused by the high energy prices.
Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez told local media earlier this month that the Sakarya gas field will reach its peak capacity in four years and will help the country reduce its natural gas imports by 30 percent by that time, adding that the gas field can provide Turkish households with natural gas for 33 years.
Oil consumption in Türkiye is approximately 950,000 barrels per day, while domestic production only stands at around 65,000 barrels. The country also consumes 50 to 60 bcm of natural gas each year, more than 90 percent of which is imported.
In recent years, the Turkish government has made several efforts to boost domestic energy outputs and reduce dependence on imported energies. Besides the Black Sea gas field, the country also discovered an oil field in Gabar Mountain in the southeastern city of Sirnak in 2022. The field, with a reserve of 150 million barrels, is among the 10 largest oil fields discovered on land in 2022.
Moreover, Türkiye also plans to operate the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant on the Mediterranean coast in 2023, the first nuclear power plant in the country.
According to local media, the country also has plans to build at least two large-scale nuclear power plants on the Black Sea coast and in the Thrace region.
However, Tanrisever pointed out that Türkiye will continue to rely largely on imports of foreign gas and oil.
“Türkiye will remain to be an energy-importing country because demand for oil and gas will be increasing, not only because of its population but also because of its industrial production,” the analyst said.
by Burak Akinci