Turkey on Monday laid the first pipes for the underwater pipeline network that will transport onshore natural gas the country discovered in the Black Sea and that it hopes will help it wean off its dependence on energy imports.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan watched via video link as the first pipeline section was laid and connected to the seabed from the port of Filyos, around 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Istanbul on the Black Sea coast.
The pipeline that will connect the wells in the Sakarya gas field to the gas processing facility in the northern Black Sea province of Zonguldak will start pumping the gas as of the first quarter of 2023, Erdoğan said.
Located around 150 kilometers (93 miles) off the coast of Turkey in the Black Sea, the gas field is home to the country’s largest-ever natural gas discovery. Its Fatih drillship discovered 540 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas there in August 2020.
The pipeline that will stretch around 170 kilometers and connect the wells in the region to the main grid will be laid at a water depth of 2,200 meters.
“In the first quarter of 2023, we will have transferred 10 million cubic meters of natural gas per day, which will be produced in the first phase, to our national transmission system,” Erdoğan told an event in Filyos.
“Sakarya Gas Field will reach peak production from 2026,” Erdoğan said.
The work on the gas processing facility in Filyos is also underway. Around 4,200 workers are said to be engaged in its construction process.
Turkey sees energy as “the key to regional cooperation, and not an area of tension and conflict,” Erdoğan said.
“We will continue our struggle in a multifaceted way until we make Turkey a country that has completely solved the problem of energy supply security,” he added.
Turkey is still highly dependent on imports to cover its energy needs, whose price has rocketed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Last year, 45% of the gas used in Turkey came from Russia and the rest from Iran and Azerbaijan.
Turkey’s annual gas consumption has risen from 48 billion cubic meters in 2020 to a record 60 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach 62 billion-63 billion this year, according to official figures.
Also addressing the event, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez said the gas field will go down in history as the world’s fastest offshore field development project from exploration to the first production.
“Today, we will lay the first pipes that will carry the Black Sea gas from the sea to the land,” Dönmez said.
The gas field in the Black Sea is the first deep-sea natural gas production site in Turkey, “but it will not be the last,” the minter added.
The first stage will see 10 million cubic meters of gas per day being carried, a figure that will increase to 40 million cubic meters in the second stage, Dönmez noted.
The production of 35,000 pipes, which will be laid on the seabed, is complete, he said and added that 95% of the pipes have been shipped.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan also announced that Turkey’s fourth drilling ship has been named Abdülhamid Han, one of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire.
“It is also important that we make such a historical discovery with fully domestic resources,” he added.
Turkey currently has three drillships, Fatih, Kanuni and Yavuz, operating in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.