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Turkey increases size of Black Sea gas find by 85 Bcm to 405 Bcm

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Reserves upgrade at Sakarya announced by Turkish president

Initial 320 Bcm find first revealed Aug. 21

Fatih expected to drill another well next month

Istanbul — Turkey has added a further 85 Bcm to the size of the reserves at its giant Black Sea Sakarya gas field, bringing the total to 405 Bcm.

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The announcement was made Oct. 17 by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a visit to the deepwater drillship Fatih, which has been drilling in the Black Sea since July 20.

The Sakarya discovery was already a major boost for Turkey before the upgrade because to date it has only had very limited gas production of its own and is dependent on imports which last year totaled 45 Bcm.

The increase in the reserves is the result of continued drilling to a depth of 4,775 meters in the Tuna-1 well, which located a third reservoir in addition to the two reservoirs identified at around 3,500 meters depth in earlier drilling.

Erdogan also said that state upstream operator TPAO had taken delivery of a hi-tech robot submarine, which he said would be used to help development of the field and enable TPAO to start delivering gas onshore by the target date of 2023 -- the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic.

Erdogan first announced the discovery of Sakarya on Aug. 21, saying TPAO had confirmed reserves to be 320 Bcm based on a single exploratory well, Tuna-1. He said at the time the estimate could be revised upward as further exploration was conducted.

Energy minister Fatih Donmez subsequently said the estimated size of the reserves had been arrived at after only 12 days of tests on Tuna-1, adding the reserves estimate was expected to be revised up after drilling was continued to increased depths.

However, he denied media reports the field had been confirmed to hold as much as 800 Bcm, saying it was too early to give a definite figure but confirming that 320 Bcm was a "cautious" estimate.

Donmez has also said TPAO would develop the field without an international partner by hiring foreign expertise where necessary, with the field expected to be developed in three stages.

More drilling

The Fatih began drilling around 170 km (105 miles) north of Turkey's west Black Sea coast in July, in a block previously drilled by Chevron under a 2010 joint venture agreement, which the US company subsequently exited.

The Fatih -- which is due to be joined by the end of this year by a second TPAO drillship, the Kanuni -- is expected to drill another well next month.

State news agency Anatolia reported Oct. 10 that the Kanuni had left port at Mersin on Turkey's Mediterranean coast where it was being refitted. It is expected to conduct drilling aimed at testing the extent of the Sakarya field.

TPAO holds the rights to all of Turkey's deepwater blocks and, over the past two decades, has formed successive joint ventures with BP, ExxonMobil, Petrobras, Chevron and Shell to prospect various Black Sea blocks.

Although the IOCs, which assumed responsibility for operating costs, drilled a total of eight wells, all departed without any announcements being made of the results of the drilling.