Turkey has revised upwards estimated reserves of its Tuna-1 Black Sea gas discovery, boosting the size of the August find to 405 billion cubic metres — equivalent to around 14.3 trillion cubic feet — by adding an additional 85 Bcm.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who made the announcement of the reserves upgrade on Saturday on board the drillship Fatih that unearthed the Sakarya field, said state-owned operator TPAO is redoubling exploration efforts in search of more reserves.
"(The) total amount of natural gas reserves in the Tuna-1 well in Sakarya gas field reached 405 billion cubic metres. The reserves we discovered in the Black Sea are the largest hydrocarbon resource of our country," he added.
Erdogan had previously announced in August that the field contained 320 Bcm— equivalent to 11.3 Tcf — which Turkey is planning to development under a fast-track programme aimed at reducing gas imports from neighbouring Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan.
Further drilling plans
Fatih is gearing up to spud a new well with TPAO hopeful of repeating the success of Tuna-1.
"Work in this borehole has been completed after reaching a depth of 4775 metres as planned previously," Erdogan said.
Fatih will drill the new probe next month after returning to port for maintenance. Another drillship, Kanuni, has just left for the Black Sea to join drilling operations as TPAO steps up its exploration drive following the success at Sakarya that lies about 100 nautical miles north of the Turkish coast.
Turkey expects the first gas to flow from Sakarya in 2023, helping to ease an enormous annual gas import bill that is weighing on its struggling economy.
Energy import bill
Turkey spent $41 billion on energy imports last year and the payments it makes to buy gas from neighbouring countries have long been a drag on its currency.
Ankara is banking on the success of its Black Sea exploration campaign to strengthen its hand in negotiations with top pipeline exporters in renewing long-term contracts totalling 16 Bcm per annum.
More than a quarter of Turkey's long-term gas contracts expire next year, including imports from Russia's Gazprom and Azerbaijan's Socar and a liquefied natural gas deal with Nigeria.
Turkey has also been exploring for hydrocarbons in the East Mediterranean amid protests from Greece and Cyprus, which last week pushed for a tougher response to its disputed exploration at a European Union summit.
The EU has urged members Greece and Cyprus to hold off until a meeting in December.
Erdogan said that the EU had become "captive" to Greece and the Greek Cypriot government in the dispute over natural resources in the East Mediterranean.
"If the EU does not hold an unbiased stance in existing disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean, this situation will be the official declaration of the end of the European Union," he said.
Turkey is the only country that recognises the self-styled Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus created after Cyprus was divided into rival Turkish and Greek administrations in 1974.