Türkiye will be ready to use its own natural gas it discovered in the Black Sea as of the first quarter of 2023, according to the country’s energy minister, who also confirmed a deal to switch to the ruble in payments for some of the Russian gas supplies.
Against the background of the global energy crisis plaguing particularly Europe, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez said no disruptions to gas supply are expected this winter in Türkiye, provided suppliers comply with their shipment plans.
Türkiye continues to lay pipes for an underwater pipeline network that will transport onshore the 540 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas reserve that was gradually discovered in the Black Sea since August 2020.
“I hope we will be able to use this natural gas on land in the first quarter of 2023, in March,” Dönmez told Anadolu Agency (AA).
Located around 150 kilometers (93.2 miles) off the country’s coast in the Black Sea, the Sakarya gas field is home to Türkiye’s largest-ever natural gas discovery.
Construction is also ongoing on an onshore gas processing facility at the port of Filyos in the northern province of Zonguldak.
Some 120 kilometers of pipelaying process of the 170-kilometer deep seabed pipeline that will pump the gas has been completed, Dönmez said. The works are expected to be completed next month.
Türkiye is still highly dependent on imports to cover its energy needs, whose price has rocketed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Sanctions on Russian supplies and tensions that have been escalating have prompted the European Union to ask member states to reduce natural gas demand by 15% and to increase storage levels before the winter season.
Dönmez said Türkiye’s stance does not support the decisions taken on sanctions against Russia, given its current contracts with Russia, and Azerbaijan and Iran.
This strategy ensures the lines of communication are open and any increases in gas, if necessary, are possible, he explained.
Last year, 45% of the gas used in Türkiye came from Russia and the rest from Iran and Azerbaijan.
Türkiye’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.
Türkiye and Russia have reached an agreement in principle to switch some of the payments for Russian natural gas to rubles, Dönmez said. All the details will be clarified in the coming days, he added.
The request from Russia to pay for gas transactions in rubles is a controversial topic in European circles, although this has been a subject of bilateral talks between Türkiye and Russia for several years.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last week said that Ankara would start paying for some gas imports from Russia in rubles after several hours of talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi.
"We do not want to indicate the percentage of payments in rubles so far. Prices, the schedule and other details will be updated shortly," Dönmez said.
The minister also said payment in Turkish liras was also up for discussion, describing it as a “strong alternative” that will become clearer in the coming days.
Dönmez highlighted the role that liquefied natural gas (LNG) plays in providing security of supply and energy diversification for the country, which currently hosts four LNG terminals.
A fifth terminal is under construction in Saros in the Edirne province, which should take 12 months to complete. A new Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) is also an option that is in the works for use as a backup, the minister said.
Gas storage capacity is being addressed to ensure the security of supplies through the country’s two underground facilities at Salt Lake (Tuz Gölu) and Silivri.
Total natural gas storage capacity will increase by almost 50% in the Silivri underground facility from 3.2 billion cubic meters (bcm) to 4.6 bcm by the year-end, Dönmez said.
“Almost 87% of these facilities are currently full. Our target is to have them at full capacity in September.”
Dönmez said Türkiye projects an income of more than $1 billion (TL 17.9 billion) from boron exports this year.
Türkiye holds more than 70% of the world’s boron reserves, according to state-run mining firm Eti Maden. It is said to control nearly 60% of the boron market.
It has revved up efforts to benefit more from its vast reserves of key materials.
Türkiye sold a total of 2.6 million tons of boron products, of which 2.5 million tons were exported, in 2021, setting a record by crossing the $1 billion mark.
Foreign sales jumped 9% to $564 million from January through June this year, official data showed, up from $516 million a year ago.
“We produce and sell 62% of the boron consumed in the world and 72% of the global reserves are located in Türkiye,” Dönmez said.
Although it meets 2.7 million tons out of approximately 5 million tons of the world’s consumption, Türkiye could increase this capacity if necessary, the minister said.
“This is an extremely critical area. Last year, we reached an export volume of over $1 billion. This year, we also expect to reach an export income of more than $1 billion,” he said.
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