Turkey is dependent on imports for almost all of its energy needs and Iran is a key supplier of Ankara’s natural gas purchases which generate nearly 40 percent of the country’s electricity production, Press TV wrote.
“The countries we have been cooperating with for years are Iran and Russia. This new period for Turkey may lead to new cooperation with these countries,” Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said in a televised interview with NTV.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday his country was determined ultimately to become a net energy exporter as he announced the discovery of a 320 billion cubic meter natural gas field that could come on stream as soon as 2023.
Turkey’s senior officials and media said the discovery could transform Turkey’s dependence on Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan for energy imports.
Albayrak said it would help remove a chronic current account deficit which has driven the lira to record lows against the dollar. The discovery, officials hope, could reduce Turkey’s energy import bill which stood at $41 billion last year.
Analysts have said it was not clear whether the 320 billion cubic meters (bcm) Erdogan announced referred to total gas estimates or amounts that could be extracted.
On Monday, Iran’s Minister of Oil Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said recoverable gas is estimated at 230bcm, translating to 35mcm per day once it is produced. This is while Turkey needs 130 mcm a day which it sources from Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan.
“Investing at sea is expensive and requires technology. On the other hand, it takes time and needs a refinery to build,” he said.
Many officials and analysts have cautioned that it could take up to a decade for gas from the Black Sea find to come online, and would need billions of dollars of investment to build up the infrastructure for production and supply.
According to Turkey’s Energy Minister Fatih Donmez, the gas find is located in waters 2,100 meters deep, with drilling extending another 1,400 meters below the sea bed.
Through a pipeline, Iran sells about 10 billion cubic meters a year of gas to Turkey under a 25-year supply deal signed in 1996.
Last month, Iran’s Ministry of Oil said it had resumed exports of natural gas to Turkey. Authorities in Turkey also denied there was a major issue with the pricing, insisting that repair work on the pipeline had been delayed because of the spread of the new coronavirus in the region.