Turkey boosts energy drilling efforts in Med Sea
In this vein, a Turkish ship will start drilling for oil and gas in the Mediterranean on Oct. 31, Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said.
Speaking at a ceremony for the launch of the drilling ship “Fatih,” the minister said it would begin drilling at the Alanya-1 borehole, located 100 kilometers (60 miles) off the southern province of Antalya and 60 kilometers off Antalya’s Alanya district.
“Turkey has set its main goal as independence in energy,” Dönmez said on Oct. 30, as quoted by Reuters.
“We don’t have an eye on the resources of others; our only issue is to present to our people the riches within our territory,” he said.
Attempts to tap gas and oil in the eastern Mediterranean, along with a dispute over Greece’s maritime borders, have recently caused friction between Athens and Ankara.
Turkey and the Greek Cypriot government in Cyprus have overlapping claims of jurisdiction for offshore oil and gas research in the eastern Mediterranean, a region thought to be rich in natural gas.
The first borehole will be some distance from the disputed territory, which lies further south and around Cyprus.
Turkey is already undertaking oil and gas exploration using two seismic vessels.
Turkey’s first seismic vessel, Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa, which was bought from Norway in 2013, has been conducting exploration operations in the Mediterranean since April 2017.
On Oct. 18, the Turkish navy blocked a Greek frigate trying to interfere with the Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa research vessel.
The incident prompted an immediate response from Turkish officials who warned Greece against taking action in the Mediterranean Sea that would spark tensions in the region.
“There is no security risk [towards the vessel], however, if harassment takes place, our naval forces will do what is necessary,” Dönmez said.
Stressing that Turkey has no intent on taking any other country’s resources in the Mediterranean Sea, he asserted the sole purpose is to provide resources under Turkey’s sovereignty as a guarantor on the Cyprus Island to its Turkish and Turkish Cypriot citizens.
Additionally, Turkey’s second vessel, the MTA Oruç Reis, which Turkish engineers built in a local shipyard in Istanbul in June, is undertaking work in the Black Sea.
Shallow drill off Mersin
Dönmez also noted that other shallow drilling works with the Fatih vessel are planned in the Mersin region in southern Turkey next month, adding that Turkey is about to buy a second drill ship to ramp up exploration.
Turkey is almost completely reliant on imports to meet its energy needs and the fall of the Turkish Lira against the dollar this year has driven up that cost, putting pressure on energy companies to raise prices for consumers.
To meet more of its needs domestically, Turkey recently announced a tender for the operation rights of three new solar power plants and privatized seven coal fields. It also opened a new refinery to reduce dependence on imported oil products.