Turkey has reportedly discovered natural energy resources in the Black Sea, two experts with knowledge on the issue have claimed according to Bloomberg.
Following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's announcement yesterday that he would provide "good news" that would benefit and jail a new era for the nation, Turks and many in the international community speculated as to what it could be. "If I announce it now, the excitement would disappear," Erdogan said.
Reports then began circulating of the discovery of the newfound energy resources, with London-based strategist Timothy Ash – from the firm BlueBay Asset Management LLP – weighing in on it. Writing on Twitter, Ash said that "There have been gas discoveries in the Black Sea before but of a limited scale." This ties in to the country's long-term interests in acquiring its own energy resources as "Given its $35-50 billion annual energy import bill, Turkey needs something big to be a game changer."
The discovery and exploitation of those resources – most likely gas – could then reportedly allow Turkey to sell and provide supplies to surrounding nations, according to the managing director of Merkel Energy consultancy Christoph Merkel. "I don't think it is that surprising more findings [are] coming from there. Bulgaria, Ukraine, Greece might be among the ones very interested in buying that gas, if Turkey decides to export it."
Those energy reserves, the size of which is not yet known, could then enable Turkey to reduce its reliance on Russia for energy, with Merkel saying that if the reserves are large enough it could partially render "idle" the Russia-to-Turkey gas pipeline TurkStream. "Why would Turkey want to keep importing gas from Russia?" he asked.
Turkey's discovery comes amid both a sharp decline in the lira in recent weeks which has witnessed a record low against the US dollar, as well as increasing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean over Turkey's exploration for energy reserves in those waters.
Yesterday, 27 EU leaders and members of the European Council conducted a video conference in which they discussed the issue of Turkey's actions in the EastMed and its tensions with Greece and Southern Cyprus. The European leaders expressed "full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus and recalled and reaffirmed our previous conclusions on the illegal drilling activities."
Although Erdogan has vowed not to back down amid the tensions and the quest for seeking energy resources, that dispute has led to it also searching for reserves in the Black Sea in the area named Tuna-1, around 150 kilometres from the northern Turkish coast and close to the convergence of the maritime borders of Romania and Bulgaria. It was there that the Turkish drill-ship Fatih has been conducting drilling operations since mid-July, Bloomberg cited a Turkish Navy website as saying.