Are Turkey’s natural gas discovery claims scientifically sound? - MEHMET ACET

Are Turkey’s natural gas discovery claims scientifically sound?

Last Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's statement that Turkey discovered an additional 135 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the Black Sea created a new wave of excitement.

This piece of good news means that Turkey is about to take a giant leap in the field of energy for Turkey.

Let us not forget that Turkey pays more than $40-billion annually for petroleum and derivative products.

When you calculate it at today's exchange rate, this corresponds to a figure of over 350 billion liras per year, and it’s paid it every single year.

These payments have always been the biggest source of the current account deficit.

These moves are all part of a campaign to join 'big players', not only in economic terms, but also when it comes to having a say in energy politics.

Meanwhile, it goes without saying that statements such as "Turkey found natural gas" left a bitter taste in some people’s mouths.

There are even those who do not believe it at all.

Just as there are those who belittle it, those who poke fun at it, saying "Come off it, mate", and there are those who regard it as an effort to deflect.

In addition to all of the aforementioned,  there are efforts that cannot be ignored that attempt to cast doubt over these natural gas discovery statements using sophisticated methods, such as "these statements are unscientific", "The discovery has nothing to do with reserves,” these statements do not necessarily mean that the reserve was found."

We live in an era where perceptions and facts are often confused, and it can be hard to tell truth from fiction.

But at any rate, “factual information” is still king.

I posed the above questions to Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Fatih Dönmez.

I relay the questions and the Minister's answers as follows:

1- What are your thoughts on the claim that natural gas has a high production cost, so these discoveries will not yield any profit? What do you say to that?

• In recent years, we were not only able to increase production, but also achieved  great success in cutting operating costs and enhancing performance. Thus, production will take place at significantly lower costs, thanks to the employment of domestic and national capabilities.

2- What are your thoughts on certain comments that claim that Turkey's natural gas discovery statements are far from scientific, reserve and discovery are two different things, and that in order to make a statement about reserves, detection wells need to be drilled one after the other and the data there needs to be confirmed?

• After the exploration obtained from the exploration well, production tests are carried out and the first findings have been shared.

• Afterwards, detection wells are drilled for a detailed understanding of the site and the dimensions of the structure are revealed more clearly.

• The project is helmed by expert staff and the necessary studies are carried out in the light of scientific data.

• We do not make a discovery statement before completing these processes. We have no unscientific discoveries.

3-What do you say to those who do not believe that Turkey has discovered natural gas?

• We have said that our discoveries will belong to all of Turkey since the first day our Fatih ship started drilling.

• The names of our ships were determined as one of the leading symbols of our history, the most important common points that made us a nation. We regret that our work with Turkey's ships is evaluated outside of scientific approaches in a politicized manner.

• Nobody should forget that they are responsible in front of our nation. The value and reality of these discoveries will be better understood with our projects and as they reach our nation come 2023.

• When we set out on this struggle, they said you can't claim that, yet we did. They said you can't find it, and yet we found it. Now they say you can't extract it, and I say to them we will do that just like we did when we discovered it.

• I invite everyone to be serious, sincere and responsible.

4-What are some of the efforts being carried out with regards the Black Sea natural gas discovery, which will hit 540 billion cubic meters in 2023 according to the latest announcement. These works are currently at what stage?

• Our preliminary engineering works in the field are about to be completed.

• On the one hand, our detailed engineering works are ongoing. For supply, we plan our long-term needs early and go to the way of supply.

• Our planning and procurement processes continue within the framework of manufacturing in the field of seabed systems and well completion.

5-135 billion cubic meters of natural gas will be brought to Turkey by which method, on what schedule and how?

• This discovery is planned to be put into production within the scope of Sakarya Gas Field Development Project.

• In short, we will present both of our discoveries to our nation gradually, starting from 2023, in accordance with the same plan.

6-Can new discoveries be announced later this year? Are there any new exploration drillings being carried out?

• Our exploration works are ongoing both on land and at sea.

• We are determined to explore the potential in the Black Sea in line with the findings we obtained from seismic data and modeling studies using advanced technology.

• Apart from this, our seismic exploration and soundings will continue on land.


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