President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who on Wednesday attended the opening of Turkey’s largest integrated solar panel manufacturing facility in the central Anatolian province of Konya, said, “From today, a new era has begun. Our life will be dominated by brand new circumstances, and this excites us.” While inaugurating this plant, which itself was a watershed moment for the country, Erdoğan added that he will be delivering “great news” on Friday.
The good news which he stated would “be ushering in a new era for Turkey” was the 320 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves discovered by Turkey’s seismic exploration vessel Fatih, which set sail on May 29, 2020, during its latest drill. What is even more important than these reserves is that Turkey is now able to conduct such drilling operations in the Black Sea with its own means, and the discovery of these reserves indicates that this is only the tip of the iceberg. The importance attached to this discovery for Turkey in August, the month of victory, may perhaps be considered solely in terms of the quantity of the reserves found. Yet, the true significance this discovery bears goes much deeper than the surface.
First and foremost, the national policy initiative that was launched in the energy field three years ago yielding results so soon is extremely important. So far, Turkey did not have the opportunity to discover its own reserves and conduct its own exploration and drilling operations. Drilling activities are expensive and it is likely that dozens of explorations may yield no results. Taking the risk to conduct drilling operations by continuous purchase of services and hiring seismic exploration and drilling ships were strenuous and pricey. Obtaining zero results from the exploration and drilling activities could lead to massive costs and have a demoralizing effect.
Turkey made a strategic move three years ago to conduct these operations using its own seismic exploration vessels. This not only extremely reduced exploration and drilling costs but also gave it the opportunity to conduct as many drilling operations as it pleased with its own vessels, own engineers, and own technical staff.
This is also the primary point of it all. While Turkey is among the world’s 20 biggest economies, up until now, it did not achieve this by relying and depending on its natural reserves, ready resources. On the contrary, Turkey, whose trade deficit increases every year due to its energy deficit, is a country that started the race with a great disadvantage. Yet, the sole advantage of some countries among the top 20 economies is their oil, gas, and natural resources. As this is the case, the big economies have no real power. Thus, such economies will experience serious bottlenecks due to the fluctuation in oil prices. What is more important is that, because these countries rely completely on their natural fortunes, they hold back as much as possible from developing themselves in other fields.
Turkey, on the other hand, as a means to turn every limitation it had to date into an opportunity in terms of natural resources, focused on investing entirely on human capital. The most vital method of development is through education and production. Doubling its universities in the last 18 years, Turkey opened another 130 universities to its existing ones. Regardless of what anyone says, our universities present an outstanding variety and quality performance today. We are, as a matter of fact, witnessing and experiencing its results together. The pessimistic discourses in some universities that exhaust everything through certain events and anecdotes aside, in terms of overall quality, the universities in Turkey crucially contribute to the country’s development and human capital.
Turkey did not find readily available financial resources and develop its human capital through said resources. On the contrary, it is making financial gains and development thanks to its human capital. The clear strength of Turkey’s economy right now, at a time the whole world’s economy is experiencing serious recession, is the result of this infrastructure.
Turkey’s unparalleled expertise in education, health, transportation, agriculture and industrial production, particularly in the defense industry, is becoming more obvious by the day. What sets it apart in all these fields have a common point: human capital.
Perhaps the reason underlying the lack of human capital in these oil-rich countries is that oil has made them lazy. Yet, who knows what position these countries would have been in had it not been for their oil. This is a subject worth contemplating and carrying out sociological analyses on. However, it should not be forgotten that the recovery policies developed in Turkey during the last 18 years have contributed enormously to turning this deprivation into an advantage rather than a disadvantage.
We have our own gas now. Discovering this gas after having increased our human capital quality to a certain point is another blessing from God. There is no doubt that this discovery will not make us complacent. We still have a long way to go.