Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey had discovered its largest-ever deposit of natural gas in the Black Sea, a move which could help the country reduce its dependence on energy imports from other countries, including Russia.
The natural gas find comes amid heightened regional tensions. The natural gas field is presumed to hold 320 billion cubic metres in the Black Sea.
“Turkey has realised the biggest natural gas find of its history in the Black Sea,” Erdogan said in a press conference, adding that more could still be discovered and the country is working to finish extracting it by as soon as 2023.
If the natural gas reserve can be commercially extracted, it could help the country reduce its energy dependence on imports from countries such as Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan.
Industry analysts said the sum of natural gas was notable, but not a “game-changer” that would materially alter Turkey’s finances or turn it into a regional energy hub.
Erdogan said Friday that Turkey will accelerate operations in the Mediterranean, despite ongoing territorial disputes with Greece and Cyprus as it looks for oil and gas in contested waters.
“We are determined to solve our energy issue,” Erdogan said. “We will not stop until we become a net exporter of energy.”
Turkey is one of the biggest economies in the Middle East, and its recent natural gas discovery comes amid increased tensions in the disputed waters of the eastern Mediterranean. The country has been mired in territorial disputes with Greece and Cyprus.
Both Germany and France have expressed alarm at the increased tensions: French warships have temporarily increased their presence, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier this week that the European Union was closely monitoring the region. Erdogan said on Friday that he also expects “good news” from energy exploration activities in the eastern Mediterranean.