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Turkey to continue Black Sea, East Mediterranean gas drilling: minister

Highlights

Follows upgrade to Black Sea gas reserves to 540 Bcm

First phase of production targets 10 million cu m/d by 2023

'Positive signs' from East Med wells to date

Turkey's upstream operator TPAO will continue with plans to drill in both the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, Turkish energy minister Fatih Donmez said June 7, following a major upgrade in its Black Sea gas reserves announced last week.

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TPAO has added a further 135 Bcm of gas reserves in the Black Sea from its Amasra-1 well in addition to 405 Bcm announced last year.

Donmez said the company could drill a new exploration well this year, adding that any new well would be sited in the south or west parts of the exploration block.

Ankara announced in August last year that TPAO had discovered the Sakarya gas field, with reserves of 320 Bcm of gas in the Tuna-1 well, which was later increased to 405 Bcm, following the discovery of a second, deeper, reservoir in the same well.

Two further wells, Turkali-1 and Turkali-2, were drilled by the Fatih drillship, but no further results were announced until last week with the Amasra-1 result. However, it is still unclear whether this is an expansion of the reserves of the Sakarya field or a separate reservoir.

The Fatih was last month joined by a second TPAO drill ship, the Kanuni, which has been conducting tests on the first three completed wells.

Donmez added that he was hopedful that further reserves could be found in the Black Sea. TPAO's survey vessel, the Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, is currently surveying in the Kastamonu 3B block, to the east of the Sakarya block.

International partners

Official statements have insisted that the Sakarya field will be developed by TPAO alone using "domestic resources" despite the company having no deepwater production experience.

This was later modified to TPAO not taking on "international partners" and instead buying in necessary expertise, with Donmez telling reporters in March that TPAO was working with "both domestic and international companies."

Subsequent news reports claiming that Ankara has been in talks with unnamed IOCs regarding development of the field have not been confirmed.

TPAO's environmental impact assessment for the project published in February indicated that phase one production of the field will involve 6-10 wells producing up to 10 million cu m/d "by 2023" using unmanned subsea facilities.

Gas will then be moved onshore via a 155-km pipeline to a processing plant at Filyos, construction of which was started on June 4.

Mediterranean plans

Separately, Donmez said June 7 that Turkey plans to continue drilling in the Mediterranean, saying that the eight wells drilled there by TPAO so far have produced some "positive signs" but that any new drilling would have to wait until long-term maintenance work has been completed on TPAO's drill ship Yavuz, which is currently in port at Silifke on Turkey's east Mediterranean coast.

Donmez did not specify whether future drilling would be conducted in areas of the Mediterranean claimed by both Turkey and either Cyprus or Greece -- which has put Ankara in conflict with both Brussels and Washington, or in areas over which ownership is not disputed such as the Gulf of Antalya where TPAO has also previously drilled.

Turkey and Greece last month engaged in talks aimed at defusing recent confrontations relating to conflicting claims over areas of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas, with further meetings slated to take place at the NATO summit in Brussels on June 14.