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All seven Turkish gas wells drilled in East Med to date uneconomic: minister

Highlights

Ankara to continue with drilling campaign despite lack of success

No plans for international partner at recent Sakarya discovery

Donmez says to hold tenders for field service operations

Istanbul — All seven of the gas wells drilled to date by Turkey in the East Mediterranean have proven to be uneconomic, Turkey's energy minister Fatih Donmez said Sept. 23 in a TV interview.

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Despite the absence of commercial reserves, Donmez said that all the wells drilled to date had provided important information on the geology of the area and that drilling of an eighth well by the drillship Yavuz was continuing.

He said upstream operator TPAO was operating according to a "long-term drilling program" in both the East Mediterranean and the Black Sea and that further wells would be drilled.

The Yavuz is currently located in Cyprus' block 6, southwest of the island, while Turkey's second drillship Yavuz continues to drill in the Black Sea where it made a 320 Bcm discovery last month at the Sakarya field.

There has been international condemnation of Turkey's exploration offshore Cyprus, with the EU considering the possibility of imposing new sanctions against Ankara because of its drilling program there.

Turkey does not release details of drilling operations, but the Fatih is believed to have drilled at least two wells in marine areas claimed both by Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus -- recognized only by Ankara.

The Yavuz is believed to have previously drilled in Cyprus' Block 7 and Block 9.

Black Sea discovery

Donmez also said in the interview that Ankara had no plans for TPAO to take on an international partner to help develop the Sakarya gas field in the Black Sea.

However, he said Turkey recognized that TPAO was not able to fully develop the field by itself and that it planned to hold international tenders to outsource "services" for the field, suggesting that both well drilling and gas testing could be subject to tenders.

Donmez added that production from the field could be conducted using a floating platform due to the depth of water the field is located under.

Ankara believes both that first gas from the field can be delivered to customers by 2023, and that gas produced from the field can be "much more economic" than imported gas.

Pointing out that Turkey's annual gas demand can vary between 45 and 50 Bcm depending on winter weather conditions, Donmez said that in addition to the cost, security of supply was also an important consideration for Ankara.