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Türkiye to conduct 3 ‘very important’ Black Sea explorations in 2024

Türkiye will carry out three critical hydrocarbon explorations in the Black Sea this year, a senior official said on Wednesday, signaling potential new energy discoveries within 2024.

“We will conduct explorations in three very important locations in the Black Sea within 2024,” Energy and Natural Resources Minister Alparslan Bayraktar told an event in Istanbul.

Heavily dependent on imports for its energy needs, Türkiye has ramped up its hydrocarbon explorations in the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean over the years.

It has been developing the 710 billion cubic meter (bcm) natural gas field in the Black Sea, which was gradually discovered in August 2020.

In April 2023, it started pumping gas from the Sakarya field into the national grid through a pipeline linked to the Filyos Natural Gas Processing Facility. Türkiye will meet approximately 30% of its annual gas need once the Black Sea reaches total capacity.

Bayraktar stressed the need to increase domestic resource exploration to reduce dependency on imports of energy.

“We need to explore and produce oil, natural gas, and coal. If you have mines, gold, copper, and zinc, we need to explore and produce them. One of the goals in the vision of 2053 presented by our President is to end Türkiye’s energy dependency. This is such a great goal that it will affect the face of Türkiye and the future of all of us,” the minister noted.

Bayraktar said they were also hopeful about exploration drills in the Gabar region in southeastern Şırnak and its neighbor province, Hakkari.

“From all of these, we definitely believe that we will announce new discoveries,” said the official.

Approximately 3.5 million cubic meters of natural gas, equivalent to the gas needs of 1.4 million households, has been consumed from the Sakarya field to date, Bayraktar said.

Natural gas inflow to Türkiye’s gas network totaled 51.48 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2023, marking an 8% decline year-over-year, according to official figures.

In 2022, approximately 56.01 bcm of gas was carried through the Turkish natural gas system, with consumption totaling 53.52 bcm.

The drop in inflow level was linked to warmer-than-expected weather conditions for the winter months, leading to a decline in gas demand. There might be a gap of up to 5% between overall consumption and the quantity of inflow in Türkiye, which also exports natural gas.

Türkiye has been injecting billions of dollars into expanding and strengthening its infrastructure and gas network. It also strives to address climate change and secure a cleaner energy future.

Bayraktar also mentioned the ongoing construction of Türkiye’s first nuclear power plant in Mersin province on the southern Mediterranean coastline.

The Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), built by Russia’s state atomic energy company Rosatom, will boast four reactors and will supply 10% of Türkiye’s electricity consumption, said the minister.

“A large project that we will put into operation entirely in the next four to five years continues, which will bring Türkiye into the nuclear league,” Bayraktar added.

The commissioning of the first reactor is expected this year, and the plant will ultimately have a total installed capacity of 4,800 megawatts. Estimated to cost around $20 billion, the NPP is expected to be fully operational by 2028.

The plant is part of Türkiye’s ambitious plan to triple its renewable energy capacity by 2053 as it strives to become a carbon-neutral economy.

The country’s ultimate goal is to increase electricity production capacity from nuclear energy to 20 gigawatts, nearly four times what the Akkuyu plant could generate.

Türkiye has been holding talks with several countries, including Russia, about building a second power plant in the Black Sea city of Sinop.

Bayraktar, in mid-September, said Türkiye was in talks with China to build the country’s third nuclear plant in Kırklareli province in the Thrace region. He said they hoped to finalize discussions and strike a deal on the plant’s construction soon.

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