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Türkiye to deploy 2 additional drilling rigs in oil-rich southeast

Türkiye will deploy two additional drilling rigs in Şırnak, a southeastern province home to the nation’s most critical oil reserve, as it seeks to expand explorations and ramp up production.

Oil output from the reserve discovered in Şırnak’s Gabar region in late 2022 exceeded 40,000 barrels per day (bpd) earlier this month.

Officials have repeatedly aimed to lift this figure to 100,000 barrels by the end of 2024, part of efforts to help Türkiye curb heavy external dependency and utilize domestic resources to meet its energy needs.

The production in Gabar gradually rose from 25,000 bpd in October to 30,000 bpd in December before reaching 35,000 this January.

Oil wells in the region have been drilled with the Koca Yusuf TP1500 unit, dubbed the first such homegrown structure manufactured by Petrotek, based in the central province of Konya.

The drilling rigs and oilfield equipment maker has received orders for two more units from Turkish Petroleum International, a subsidiary of state energy company Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO), said Özgür Çağlan Kuyumcu, the chair of the board of Petrotek.

Kuyumcu noted that the first TP1500 has been successfully operating in the field for approximately one and a half years and said the two new structures will be delivered by the end of the year.

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.

The nation’s crude oil production rose gradually over recent years, reaching about 70,000 barrels per day in 2022. That compared to 65,000 barrels daily in 2021, 61,000 in 2020, and 57,000 in 2019.

The output averaged 80,000 barrels last year, which the country expects to increase to 200,000 by the end of 2024.

TP1500 has achieved great success, according to Kuyumcu.

“It continues without breakdowns or technical problems. Meanwhile, we have received orders for two more from TPIC. We plan to finish their production and deliver them within this year,” he said.

Employees working on the TP1500 drilling rig are seen at the Petrotek factory in Konya, central Türkiye, April 15, 2019. (AA Photo)
Employees working on the TP1500 drilling rig are seen at the Petrotek factory in Konya, central Türkiye, April 15, 2019. (AA Photo)

Negotiations for further orders are ongoing, he noted.

“Our main goal is export. We are already exporting smaller rigs to neighboring countries. But with terrestrial drilling rigs and especially with the reference of Turkish Petroleum, we aim to export much faster,” he added.

By the end of the year, the company will exhibit the rigs at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“We expect it to receive intense interest,” Kuyumcu said.

Indigenous project

TP1500 is the culmination of years of effort, according to Kuyumcu.

“We have been producing rigs for some time. However, the production of this deep-capacity, high-capacity terrestrial drilling rig as a national and indigenous project emerged as an R&D initiative led by the Turkish Petroleum Corporation,” he noted.

The rig boasts 1,500 horsepower and a 350-ton hook load capacity. Its theoretical drilling capacity is 5,000 meters. It has a 43-meter mast, and its height from the ground is 50 meters.

Kuyumcu said the rig went through a rigorous certification process. In 2019, it obtained the American Petroleum Institute (API) certification, necessary for manufacturing in the global oil industry.

“We became one of the 16 companies in the world with this certification. We are the only company in Türkiye with this certification,” he noted.

Stressing that the indigenous production of the rig ensures production without being affected by any embargo, Kuyumcu highlighted its importance in export revenue and employment.

“Indigenous drilling leads to savings of up to 30% in costs compared to counterparts. The second advantage is transportation. We are talking about a load of 40 trucks that would typically need to be transported from China or the U.S. This transportation cost can reach millions of dollars. Since it is produced in Türkiye, there is no need for this,” he said.

TP1500 is the latest generation electric rig that has been specifically produced for Türkiye’s needs and is technologically on par with foreign counterparts, according to Kuyumcu.

“It is entirely controlled by electric motors and operates with automation. We can call it an intelligent drilling system. There is an operator, but instead of pressing 40 buttons, when the operator gives certain commands from the joystick, the rig automatically applies predetermined sequences,” he explained.

“It switches to protection at certain points. In case of dangerous movements, emergencies, the operator’s distraction, or a mistake, it intervenes and issues warnings. Thus, a safer, more accurate system is formed. The software here is completely indigenous and national. Therefore, the towers are controlled by software with source code in Türkiye.”

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