How significant is Turkey's gas discovery?

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the discovery of 320 billion cubic meters of gas in the Black Sea on Friday. The price of the lira, which had risen before the speech, dropped again shortly afterwards - presumably because the quantity of gas is far lower than anticipated. Commentators discuss the reasons for the widespread scepticism among critics and the Turkish people.

Open/close all quotes
Akşam (TR) /

Erdogan's critics just envious

Critical voices among Turkish experts and the population are trying to discredit this discovery out of envy, Akşam complains:

“Their intention is to defile this good news! That's why they are so harsh. This is a find that will lead Turkey to energy independence. At the same time it is the first major success and a key step. Moreover, this step comes at a time when the huge energy companies had discontinued their exploratory activities in the seas because of the pandemic. We will now become a global power in the energy sector. Clearly that's what's really upsetting them.”

Artı Gerçek (TR) /

The Turks have other worries right now

The population is not easily infected by the government's euphoria, Arti Gercek comments:

“This discovery has met with little enthusiasm among the people, especially since it's still unclear when production can start and if it will have any impact at all on their lives. They're busy trying to make ends meet and are struggling with a growing number of problems - not least because of the corona pandemic. So they have little interest in messages announced with so much pomp and circumstance. They know full well that there are political agendas behind all this. And that's why the government hasn't got what it hoped for.”

Phileleftheros (CY) /

An implausible world record

The Turkish government's announcement raises questions for Phileleftheros:

“How is it possible to drill to a depth of 2,500 meters in 30 days? Drilling began on July 20 and the announcement that a large reserve had been found was made on August 21. ... Since such findings require at least seven days of additional on-site investigations, [the drilling ship] Fatih must have set a world record for drilling speed. In the Mediterranean (the illegal drilling within the Cypriot EEZ), it took 70 to 90 days to complete the drilling operation with the same drill, crew and similar dimensions. So how was this done in just 20 to 25 days here?”

Hürriyet Daily News (TR) /

Maybe there's much more

Energy policy in the region could change drastically, Hürriyet Daily News comments:

“The discovery of natural gas in the Black Sea would lead to new ambitious plans by Turkey to find more reserves in the same area to lure international companies for investment. Serving the domestic needs of the country will stay a priority, but there is a potential that Turkey can turn into a new supplier, especially for the European markets. These assessments may sound immature, given the fact that we know very little about the reserves. But this allows us to think over potential ramifications on the regional energy geopolitics.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

More leeway for Ankara

Handelblatt's Turkey correspondent Ozan Demircan draws attention to the geopolitical significance of the finding:

“Turkey will become independent of expensive Russian gas for a few years. And this is important at a time when Moscow and Ankara are competing for geopolitical influence - whether it's over Syria, Libya or the production and export of weapons. The gas discovery gives Ankara more room for manoeuvre in its negotiations with Moscow. Conversely, the gas find could bring Nato partners the US and Turkey a little closer together again after numerous conflicts. Ankara may now have found a new ally in the Mediterranean, where Turkey is also looking for gas against the will of Greece and the EU. For the EU this means that Turkey has secured a better negotiating position.”

Izvestia (RU) /

Just hot air so far

Energy expert Alexander Frolov points out in Izvestia that Ankara's statements about the gas reserves don't really say anything about how high the yield will be:

“The quantity mentioned can only be regarded as a provisional figure and will inevitably be corrected. It is also unclear whether these are not just the quantities that are technically viable for production, but are also economically viable. One thing is how much gas there is in a gas field, but how much can be extracted without looking at the costs is quite another. A third factor is how much gas you can extract without going bankrupt. There is still a long way to go before an decision on the investment is made. The plan announced by the Turkish government to deliver the Black Sea gas to the people as early as 2023 is as unrealistic as it is vague.”