Energy resources in the East Mediterranean and Turkey

There are many topics written and discussed on the last period of the Ottoman Empire. One of these is that after World War I, borders were drawn based on oil regions, and the oil regions left within the borders were eliminated on the maps. Intense operations were launched during former Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak’s time in office to clarify this matter, which has been argued over for years.

Explorations in the Black Sea and Mediterranean have been accelerated greatly to increase production operations through oil and natural gas explorations on the ground and in the sea in efforts to reveal new sources of demand and develop our existing reserves to meet the daily increasing demand for oil and natural gas.

The first move in this respect is the launch of reserve exploration works with the 90-percent domestically produced seismic surveying ships Oruç Reis and Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa.

Following the analyses of the seismic surveying ships, deep sea drills in the opens of Alanya was started with Turkey's first drilling ship Fatih. Drilling is planned in locations most likely to have reserves, both in Cyprus and Turkey's territorial waters. These operations conducted using our own drilling ship, our own engineers and local equipment are really a new era in Turkey's energy history.

The Mediterranean is an important region in terms of developing alternative resources. The Eastern Mediterranean is an important and serious alternative for natural gas energy resources. Turkey has accelerated its oil and natural gas exploration operations in this region under the responsibility of the Turkish Petroleum Cooperation (TPAO). As Turkey, we have a very large coastal line in this area which has gained prominence, especially in recent years.

Starting from Turkey, the Mediterranean's borders are surrounded with the coasts of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, and Greece.

The energy regions in the Eastern Mediterranean are composed of the region between the island of Cyprus and Israel called the Leviathan reserves, the region between Egypt and the island of Cyprus called the Nile Delta reserves, the region in the southeast of the island of Crete called the Herodotus reserves and the surrounding of the island of Cyprus.

The 1.763 billion barrels of oil in the Nile Delta is stated to be 223 trillion square feet natural gas and 6 billion barrels liquefied gas. The Leviathan region is said to potentially have 1.689 billion barrels of oil and 122 trillion square feet natural gas. The region belonging to Lebanon is estimated to have approximately 708 billion square meters of natural gas. While in the field referred to as Aphrodite, a natural gas channel with an average reserve of 198 billion square meters was found.

This gas requires a minimum investment between $5 billion and $16 billion to reach consumer markets. The cheapest method is to transfer the gas to Turkey through a pipeline, and from here to the end market (approximately 4.8 billion dollars).

Considering the likely reserve amounts, the importance of the Eastern Mediterranean and how it is an energy-political focus region of the world becomes clear.

There are efforts to form a new political balance in the Eastern Mediterranean. Other than the continental shelf agreement it signed with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Turkey has not signed any continental shelf or Exclusive Economic Zone agreement. It advocates that the restrictions in this regard need to be determined with the participation of all relevant parties and with agreements suitable to the equity principle of international law.

Israel, Greece and the Greek Administration of South Cyprus are taking joint action in the Eastern Mediterranean in cooperation in the fields of energy and security. The EU is closely interested in the island of Cyprus, which is in a key point capable of controlling the East Mediterranean, and is following a joint strategy with the Greek administration. The diplomatic, military and economic relations between Israel, South Cyprus and Greece are rapidly developing.

The TRNC announced a total of seven oil and natural gas exploration fields in the north and south of Cyprus, and assigned these to the TPAO. Hence, Turkey's most problematic region in the Eastern Mediterranean is toward the west of Cyprus. The legal problems concerning the restrictions to be made here will directly impact the East Mediterranean basin in terms of politics, economy and security.

The major investment projects in the recent period are the STAR Refinery, Trans-Anatolia Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP), and TurkStream. The realization of these projects, using local and national means in oil and natural gas exploration works, will allow access to the reserves that have been long dreamed of.

In the context of operations targeted in terms of reducing foreign dependency in energy and securing demand, Turkey will continue to take steps to both increase its efficiency in its own territorial waters, and to contribute to its national income through the reserves that are likely to be found.

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