Turkey Raises Estimate for Sakarya Gas Field

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Turkey has increased its estimates of the gas resources at the Sakarya field in the Black Sea by one-third -- to 540 billion cubic meters (19 trillion cubic feet) from 405 Bcm. "Our Fatih drillship has made a new natural gas discovery of 135 Bcm [4.8 Tcf] in the Amasra-1 well in the Sakarya Gas field," said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey announced the Sakarya discovery last August, saying at the time that it had found 320 Bcm of gas. That figure was later increased to 405 Bcm based on the results of further drilling (IOD Oct.19’20). However, the numbers appear to refer to total estimated gas in place, rather than the volumes that could be recovered from the field. Last October, Turkey's state-owned oil and gas company TPAO referred to Sakarya as having a "potential" 405 Bcm of gas. It did not post a new press release to its website about the latest increase in estimated resources. In a survey of the largest oil and gas discoveries of 2020, consultancy Rystad Energy described Sakarya as a 1.7 Tcf field, based on the information released in October. Fast-Track Development Turkey plans to fast-track development of Sakarya, with first gas planned in 2023. It is targeting production of 10 Bcm/yr in the first phase of development and double that in the second phase. That would potentially cut the country's annual gas import bill by $6 billion, according to the official Anadolu news agency. However, discoveries elsewhere in the Black Sea have faced significant challenges to development and there is some skepticism as to whether Sakarya will live up to the hyperbole that has surrounded the discovery (IOD Apr.30’20). On the other hand, TPAO has talked internally about possibly finding as much as1 trillion cubic meters of gas in the Black Sea, says one Turkish energy executive. Sakarya is a highly political project, with Erdogan touting the discovery as a key pillar of Turkey's push to become less dependent on energy imports (IOD Mar.11’21). Turkey has gas import contracts totaling 18 Bcm/yr that are due to expire this year -- including contracts with Russia's Gazprom for 8 Bcm/yr. Negotiations about extending the Gazprom contracts are already under way, according to Turkish press reports. Will TPAO Seek a Partner? There has been no public discussion so far as to whether or not TPAO will bring in any partners to help develop Sakarya, according to the Turkish energy executive. "So far they say they prefer to do it by themselves. Personally, I think they will need to bring in at least one partner," he added. Sakarya "is not just a lot bigger than anything TPAO has done before. It is also more complex; there are liquids. It will need a gas processing plant," he added. In 2019, TPAO produced around 40,000 barrels per day of oil and just 405 million cubic meters of gas, so developing and managing Sakarya would represent a considerable leap from anything it has faced before. Rafiq Latta, Nicosia

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