Turkey discovers large natural gas reserve off Black Sea

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the inauguration of a solar technologies plant, outside Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. Erdogan said that Turkey will defend its rights in the eastern Mediterranean until the end, but Ankara wants Greece to take steps paving the way for dialogue.(Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool)
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the inauguration of a solar technologies plant, outside Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. Erdogan said that Turkey will defend its rights in the eastern Mediterranean until the end, but Ankara wants Greece to take steps paving the way for dialogue.(Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool) (Turkish Presidency)

ANKARA – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Friday the discovery of a large natural gas reserve off the Black Sea coast that will help ease the country's dependence on imports.

Erdogan said the amount of gas discovered is 320 billion cubic meters, a sum industry analysts said was notable but not a “game-changer” that might turn the country into a regional energy hub or materially alter its financial fortunes.

Turkey hopes to start extracting and using the gas by 2023, when Turkey marks the centenary of the founding of the republic, Erdogan said.

“Turkey has realized the greatest natural gas discovery in its history,” he said. “We are determined to solve our energy issue. We will not stop until we become a net exporter of energy.”

Berat Albayrak, the economy minister and Erdogan’s son-in-law, said the government hopes it will eliminate Turkey's current account deficit.

Independent experts were less convinced of that claim.

Ulrich Leuchtmann, head of foreign exchange research at Commerzbank, said the discovery is positive news for Turkey, “but it’s not the game changer that some were expecting" after earlier reports suggested the find would meet Turkey’s energy needs for the next two decades.

He also noted that it usually takes up to a decade to extract gas from a new discovery and that investors seem skeptical about the claim that the find would eliminate Turkey's current account deficit.