LONDON – Turkish state oil company TPAO has discovered a potentially giant gas field in the deepwater Turkish sector of the Black Sea.
According to Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, the Tuna-1 find – drilled by the drillship Fatih-1 – holds potential resources of 320 bcm.
The country at present relies mainly for its gas needs on imports through pipelines from Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran, plus LNG consignments.
Thomas Purdie, an analyst on Wood Mackenzie’s upstream research team, said that even if the 320 bcm figure is an estimate of gas in place, this remains Turkey’s largest-ever gas discovery and one of the biggest globally of 2020.
“What’s more, it reaffirms the deepwater Black Sea’s hydrocarbon potential after several disappointing wells in Bulgaria.”
But he cautioned that “reaping the supply rewards will be complex and a 2023 date for bringing the discovery – renamed Sakarya - looks ambitious. First and foremost, the discovery will need to be appraised by more wells – to improve understanding of the geology and confirm resource estimates.
“It’s early days, but any future development would cost billions of dollars. Deepwater projects are complex in any environment, but the Black Sea poses additional logistical challenges that must be managed.
“This is one of the factors that has stalled Romania’s Neptun Deep megaproject, located just 100 km [62 mi] north of the Tuna well.”
TPAO would benefit from bringing an international partner into the project, he added: “There could be attractions despite the market outlook – highly competitive tax terms in a basin that international oil companies know increasingly well over recent years.”
Murray Douglas, director, Europe gas, said: “The Turkish gas market is large, with 2019 demand of almost 45 bcm. Gas demand has fallen year-on-year since 2017: much of that is down to the weak Turkish economy and increased competition from coal-fired and renewable generation.
“However, despite coronavirus, Turkish gas demand has only fallen 3%, year-to-date, versus last year. That is a less severe fall than many other European markets.”
The discovery could also have implications on plans for future gas imports and negotiations with suppliers Gazprom, Azerbaijan and Iran, Douglas suggested.