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    Turkey Signals Med Drilling, Shale Plans


Turkey's president has announced plans for deep water drilling in the Mediterranean, including the lease of a second deepwater drillship, as well as a commitment to explore for onshore shale gas and CBM.

by: David O'Byrne

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Turkey Signals Med Drilling, Shale Plans

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced Turkish plans to start deep water drilling in the Mediterranean, and for Turkey to lease a second deep water drill ship.

Erdogan made the announcement August 4 during a presentation of his '100 days' programme which includes 17 separate energy initiatives that he plans to launch in the coming 100 days.

The programme lists plans to drill one shallow water well and one deep water well in the Mediterranean but neither the programme, which was published online, nor Erdogan in his presentation made any reference to the planned location for the drilling. 

The operator is Turkish state upstream firm TPAO's wholly-owned subsidiary, Turkish Petroleum International Company (TPIC). 

Last month Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News reported that TPIC's first leased deepwater drillship Fatih (formerly known as Deepsea Metro II) was offshore Turkey's southern province of Antalya preparing to start drilling, but did not state if the vessel would be drilling in that area. An industry source told NGW it would not be drilling in any Turkish area disputed by neighbouring states.

TPIC last year though conducted seismic surveying inside areas of the eastern Mediterranean claimed as being part of the Republic of Cyprus's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Ankara has been signalling for some years that it plans to conduct exploratory drilling within the Cyprus' EEZ, in retaliation for Cyprus holding licensing rounds for exploration blocks, as a result of which it awarded several licences including, in 2011, one to US based Noble Energy which resulted in the discovery of the Aphrodite gas field with 200bn m3 of estimated reserves. 

Turkey has long insisted that no exploitation of the island's hydrocarbon reserves should be allowed until an agreement has been reached on reunification of the divided island.

However, with successive rounds of talks having failed to reach a solution, Ankara has for the past few years been giving signals that it plans to conduct its own deep water drilling within Cyprus' EEZ citing an agreement with the internationally unrecognised Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, which occupies the northern third of the island and claims a proportional share of the island's mineral reserves.

Shale gas/CBM strategy

In addition to its offshore drilling plans, Erdogan's '100 day' strategy also included a commitment to confirm Turkey's coal bed methane (CBM) and shale gas potential.

Turkey has two major shale beds in the northwestern province of Thrace and in the south eastern province of Diyarbakir. TPIC has drilled both shales, while it has drilled the Diyarbakir one in partnership with Shell, although to date no major discoveries have been announced. Turkey is also believed to have substantial reserves of CBM, with potential reserves identified in the Amasra region of the Black Sea coast.

There are existing operators seeking out unconventional gas opportunities in Thrace (in the European part of Turkey). Earlier this year, NGW met up with TransAtlantic Petroleum, a US independent active there, whose CEO said that Thrace has the potential to produce significant volumes of onshore tight gas by 2025 if investment capital were made available to develop its resources.