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Turkey’s Black Sea find ‘could potentially meet country’s energy needs for 20 years’

The hydrocarbon find that Turkey has made in the Black Sea could potentially meet the country’s energy needs for 20 years if it can be successfully commercially extracted, according to one source quoted by Reuters on August 20.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told energy executives on August 19 that he would on August 21 announce “good news” that would signal “the beginning of a new era” for Turkey. His comments drove up shares in Turkish energy firms and gave a small lift to the embattled Turkish lira as the markets settled on the conclusion that Erdogan must be referring to the energy find, most probably of gas.

Turkey is almost entirely reliant on imports to meet its energy needs. Last year, its energy import bill stood at $41bn. Such expenditure is a big factor in Turkey’s chronic current account difficulties, which put pressure on the lira.

Two sources told Reuters Erdogan was indeed referring to the energy discovery in the Black Sea, and one of those sources said the scale of the reserves might meet Turkey’s energy needs for two decades.

Turkey’s drilling ship Fatih has been operating since late July in an exploration zone known as Tuna-1, about 100 nautical miles north of the Turkish coast in the western Black Sea.

“There is a natural gas finding in the Tuna-1 well,” one source said. “The expected reserve is 26 trillion cubic feet or 800 billion cubic metres, and it meets approximately 20 years of Turkey’s needs.”

However he reportedly cautioned that it could take seven to 10 years to start production, and estimated investment costs at between $2bn and $3bn.

Officials, including Energy Minister Fatih Donmez, have given no details of the August 21 announcement, saying Erdogan will spell out the “surprise” himself.