Illustration; Source: Türkiye Petrolleri A.O. (TPAO)

Türkiye puts wind in Black Sea oil & gas exploration sails while chasing energy independence

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Illustration; Source: Türkiye Petrolleri A.O. (TPAO)

Türkiye, which is working on shoring up different energy sources to fortify its domestic production and end its reliance on imports, is in the same boat as most other nations, thus, the country has set its cap on boosting its search for more oil and gas. In the hopes of finding more hydrocarbons, the country plans to embark on further drilling activities in the Black Sea this year. Türkiye will not set coal aside either while leaving no stone unturned in its quest to expand its energy arsenal with renewables and nuclear.

With multiple forces at play, the complex global energy landscape is shaped by many factors, including geopolitical woes and upheavals. However, energy security is still the dominant concern among countries worldwide. The opening of its first underground natural gas storage facility and the start-up of a giant gas project in the Black Sea enabled Türkiye to strengthen its energy independence. However, more work needs to be done to ensure the country can say goodbye to imports by replacing them with domestic energy resources.

While emphasizing that Türkiye should put its own domestic and renewable resources to use as one-third of the electricity produced in the country comes from coal with half of this still stemming from imported coal, Alparslan Bayraktar, Türkiye’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, underlined: “This country needs energy. We need to use our own resources to reduce the current account deficit. We cannot turn our back on coal.”

As a result, Bayraktar points out that it is necessary to take advantage of around 20 billion tons of coal reserves in the country without compromising occupational health and safety, adding: “We need to use it in a way that is compatible with the environment. Therefore, we need to bring this understanding into our economy with both our coal and other mines.”

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With the green shift in full swing around the globe, some people have expressed opposition to electricity production from coal, however, Bayraktar is adamant that the use of domestic coal is directly related to energy security and therefore national security.

 “Coal consumption increased in Europe in both 2002 and 2023. Therefore, we say that if there is to be a transformation, it must be smart,” he remarked while noting that “coal must continue to be in the economy for a certain period of time.”

Türkiye’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, who explained that almost 99% of the new capacity the country produced last year came from renewable energy, is convinced that throwing coal out of the energy mix while pursuing renewables would be the wrong move.  

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Bayraktar elaborated: “Our main goal is to save Türkiye from foreign dependency in energy. We want to use our domestic and renewable resources to the maximum extent for this purpose.”

More Black Sea drilling activities on Türkiye’s horizon

According to Bayraktar, the natural gas produced in the Sakarya gas field has reached 3.7 million cubic meters. The country intends to speed up exploration in three locations, especially in the Black Sea, throughout 2024 to produce more value-added products and reduce its foreign dependency in the energy arena. At least three more exploration wells in the Black Sea are on the country’s agenda this year.

“We are working with the aim of absolutely ending foreign dependency in the field of energy and natural resources in the next 30 years in the Century of Türkiye,” underscored Bayraktar. “We predict that the demand in Türkiye will continue to increase in the coming period until the 2040s. Our per capita electricity consumption is approximately 4 thousand kilowatt hours. Therefore, our demand is increasing.” 

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Furthermore, Türkiye has already put forward some strategies, especially renewable energy, to lower its reliance on imports. With this at the forefront, Bayraktar claims the country needs to scale up its domestic and renewable resources, including coal while amplifying energy efficiency. 

In line with this, Bayraktar stated: “We will produce more. We will make more discoveries. This year, we will hopefully declare 2024 as the year of exploration. With future discoveries, we will reduce Türkiye’s foreign dependency on energy and natural gas. We will become a fully independent Turkish energy market in the next 30 years.”

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Since the energy transition game plays an important part in this, Bayraktar outlined: “As the trend towards greener resources continues, we know that oil and natural gas will continue to have a place in economies in the coming decades. Therefore, since these will not be reset in one day, Türkiye must find its own oil and natural gas.” 

With nearly 70% of the energy currently being covered by imports, the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan put forward his vision of the Century of Türkiye to strengthen the country in many areas and free it from foreign dependency, turning it into a fully independent energy player. The country’s natural gas reserves in the Black Sea rose to 710 bcm following exploration activities.

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Bayraktar reminded: “In 2016, we put forward a vision we called the National Energy and Mining Policy and said we will now search for our own oil and natural gas with our own ships and our own engineers, and hopefully we will find it. 

“We added the Fatih, Yavuz, Kanuni, and Abdülhamid Han drillships to our fleet. Today, I am proud to say that Türkiye is a country with a fleet of the most advanced deepwater drilling and seismic ships in the world. I can say that it is among the top ten countries in the world.” 

In a bid to curb its dependence on foreign oil, the country is also exploring previously avoided geographies such as Gabar. Currently, Türkiye produces 37,000 barrels of oil in Şırnak Gabar and plans to increase this to 100,000 barrels. 

Bayraktar continued: “We are searching for natural gas in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea with our Fatih, Yavuz, Kanuni and Abdülhamid Han drillships. Thank God, we made the largest natural gas discovery in the history of the country in August 2020. In this field, which we call the Sakarya gas field, we have now produced natural gas used in the homes of 1.4 million households.

“This is just the beginning. Hopefully, we will increase our production there. We strive day and night for this. We are working day and night to find other discoveries in the Black Sea and other places, hopefully in 2024.”

Embracing nuclear and green energy

As nuclear energy has been Türkiye’s 70-year-old dream, Bayraktar underlined that some steps had been taken to bring the dream to reality in almost every period. Currently, four nuclear power plants are being built simultaneously in Akkuyu. Upon completion, 10% of Türkiye’s energy is anticipated to be met from this power plant, bringing the country into the nuclear energy player’s club.

With great potential for renewable energy still on the table, Bayraktar notes that once Türkiye uses the sun, wind, and renewable resources; produces its own oil and natural gas; and makes nuclear energy, it will eliminate the problem of foreign dependency, which is currently permeating its energy sector.

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“When we realize all these projects, Türkiye will move forward economically,” concluded Bayraktar while elaborating that once the country’s dependence on foreign sources is over, it would become “a country that is much stronger geopolitically, more listened to in its region, and can be pointed out in the world.”


𝐃𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐫𝐚𝐛 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐚𝐮𝐝𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐯𝐞? 𝐋𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐧𝐨 𝐟𝐮𝐫𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐎𝐟𝐟𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐄𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐠𝐲! 𝐎𝐮𝐫 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐛𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐟𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐬 𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐚𝐠𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐢𝐥 & 𝐠𝐚𝐬, 𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞, 𝐨𝐟𝐟𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐝, 𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐞, 𝐡𝐲𝐝𝐫𝐨𝐠𝐞𝐧, 𝐬𝐮𝐛𝐬𝐞𝐚, 𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐫𝐠𝐲, 𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐟𝐮𝐞𝐥𝐬, 𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐧 𝐚 𝐝𝐚𝐢𝐥𝐲 𝐛𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐬.

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