Turkey’s Black Sea gas find does not match its president’s hype

THE ECONOMIST 🔒 | For months Turkish drilling ships had scavenged the seabed of the eastern Mediterranean for energy sources, sailing into disputed waters and provoking a standoff with Cyprus, Greece and the EU. Yet it was in the murky depths of the Black Sea that Turkey ended up striking gas. On August 21st the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, declared that a Turkish ship had found some 320 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas, the largest such discovery in Turkey’s history. The government hopes to launch production by 2023, the centenary of Ataturk’s creation of the modern Turkish state.

Mr Erdogan immediately heralded the find as the dawn of a “new era”, in which Turkey would eventually become a net energy exporter. (The country imports 98% of its gas.) That is a pipe dream. Analysts have serious doubts about the size of the field, which has not been independently verified, Turkey’s ability to extract the gas in as little as three years, and the project’s overall commercial viability. Offshore exploration is a costly business, and energy markets have been hobbled of late by declining demand and a glut of supply, which have combined to drive down the price of gas, making trickier fields unviable.

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