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Terrorism out, oil in: Output in Türkiye’s southeast hits new peak

Şırnak, a southeastern province of Türkiye that long struggled with a significant terrorist presence, is now making headlines for its burgeoning oil industry, which has achieved a new peak in daily output, a senior official said Thursday.

Energy and Natural Resources Minister Alparslan Bayraktar announced that oil production in the province’s Gabar mountain region had exceeded 40,000 barrels per day (bpd), a level he earlier said they would have achieved by the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

The output gradually rose from 25,000 bpd in October to 30,000 bpd in December before reaching 35,000 this January. According to government officials, the goal is to lift the figure to 100,000 barrels by the end of 2024.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the discovery of an oil reserve in Mount Gabar in late December 2022. Erdoğan said the reserve contained an estimated 150 million barrels of oil valued at approximately $12 billion.

It was followed by the discovery of another reserve in the region last May, which the state oil company Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) said boasted about 1 billion barrels and a market value of up to $80 billion.

Bayraktar revealed plans to expand the number of wells at the Şehit Aybüke Yalçın Oil Production Field to 95 by the year’s end, with ambitions to achieve a daily output of 100,000 barrels.

Şırnak had long been a victim of PKK terrorist attacks and has suffered from underdevelopment for decades.

The province’s transformation comes after years of security operations that successfully rid the region of terrorist threats, paving the way for Şırnak to emerge as a key player in Türkiye’s oil sector.

Speaking at a ceremony near the oil production facilities, Bayraktar expressed appreciation for the dedication of the workers and the efforts of security forces in ensuring the region’s safety and prosperity.

“Today marks a historic milestone as we surpass 100,000 barrels in total production, solidifying Şırnak’s position as Türkiye’s oil capital. Our journey is far from over, and we continue to work tirelessly toward our goal,” said the minister.

Erdoğan on Thursday also commended the workers for their achievements, expressing confidence in their ability to reach the ambitious production target.

He emphasized the importance of their steadfast commitment and predicted that Gabar would lead the nation in oil production, bolstering both Türkiye’s strength and economic growth.

Approximately 3,000 individuals are employed in the oil production fields, which is expected to rise with further developments.

Bayraktar highlighted the significance of reducing Türkiye’s energy dependence and outlined plans for future exploration and production in other regions, including Hakkari and the Van border.

The discoveries in Gabar increased the country’s proven oil reserves to about 1.2 billion barrels. Türkiye is estimated to consume about 1 million barrels of oil a day.

In mid-2022, Türkiye also announced the discovery of $1 billion worth of oil reserves in the Çukurova field in southern Adana province.

The nation is almost entirely dependent on imports to cover its energy needs, which left it vulnerable to rising costs that surged following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Türkiye’s crude oil production has risen gradually over recent years, reaching about 70,000 barrels per day in 2022. This compares to 65,000 barrels daily in 2021, 61,000 in 2020, and 57,000 in 2019.

The output averaged 80,000 barrels last year, a figure that the country expects to increase to 200,000 in 2024.

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