Türkiye’s Black Sea gas field is on track to go online next year as promised and work has sped up to connect it to the national infrastructure, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Saturday.
Addressing a natural gas pipeline opening in the northern Kastamonu province, Erdoğan said drilling at nine of the 10 wells in the first phase of the seabed Sakarya gas field was complete.
"Hopefully we'll start using this gas next year," Erdoğan said via video.
Türkiye discovered natural gas off its northern coast in 2020 and has since estimated volumes at 540 billion cubic meters (bcm).
The country built an "energy base" in Sakarya, and it will become a benchmark marketplace for natural gas with the inclusion of domestic supplies, Erdoğan said.
"We're preparing to build an advanced natural gas marketplace where multiple products and multiple contracts come together to form reference prices."
Erdoğan did not mention Russia in his speech.
In recent weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeated that a natural gas hub could be set up in Türkiye fairly quickly, forecasting many European customers would emerge in such a marketplace.
Erdoğan previously said Russian and Turkish energy authorities would work together to designate the best location for the potential gas distribution center, adding that Türkiye’s Thrace region, bordering Greece and Bulgaria, appeared to be the best spot.
Türkiye is home to seven international natural gas pipelines, four LNG facilities and floating storage regasification units (FSRU). It has the only regional organized natural gas market under its energy exchange market – Energy Exchange Istanbul (EXIST).
The country’s extensive natural gas infrastructure supports not only domestic energy security but also European energy security. The European Union, which previously turned to Russia for about 40% of its gas needs, is seeking to wean itself off Russian energy following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
One of the ways Russian gas reaches Europe is through the dual TurkStream natural gas pipeline. With a total capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters (bcm), each line has an annual capacity of 15.75 bcm. The first delivers gas to Türkiye and the other to Europe.
The pipeline, originating on the Russian coast, runs 930 kilometers (577 miles) through the Black Sea and reaches ashore in the Thrace region of Türkiye.
The Blue Stream, a major trans-Black Sea gas pipeline that has the capacity to carry 16 bcm of natural gas per year from Russia to Türkiye, is also part of the infrastructure that could help Türkiye acquire the hub status.
The Russian Federation-Türkiye Natural Gas Main Transmission Line, currently without any flows, and which runs 845 kilometers (525 miles) from Malkoçlar on the Bulgarian border to its final destination in Ankara also offers the potential to open the door to Europe.
As one of the key projects of the past few years, the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) transports natural gas from the Shah Deniz-II field in the Caspian Sea as well as from other fields in the southern part of the Caspian Sea to Türkiye and onto Europe by connecting to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) on the Turkish-Greek border.
Türkiye is also home to the Baku-Tiflis-Erzurum pipeline. However, the contract for gas transmission via this pipeline was terminated last year. Nonetheless, the pipeline could be reopened to cater to extra volumes from Azerbaijan to Türkiye.
The Eastern Anatolian Natural Gas Main Transmission line is a 1,491-kilometer-long pipeline with a capacity to transfer 10 bcm annually.
The Türkiye-Greece Natural Gas Pipeline, which started operations in 2007, enables natural gas transportation from Türkiye to Greece.