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Will Turkey refuse Russian gas?

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the discovery of the powerful Sakarya gas field in the Black Sea could reduce Turkey's dependence on imported blue fuel. He hopes that the field will begin production as early as 2023. However, many experts consider these plans too ambitious, Deutsche Welle reports.

At the moment, gas imports from Russia, Iran, and Azerbaijan provide two-thirds of Turkey's needs. Ashley Sherman, an analyst at the Wood Mackenzie consulting group, notes that in 2019 energy supplies cost the Turkish treasury $41 billion, and even then thanks to low oil prices.

In Ankara, the discovery of large deposits of blue fuel is called a miracle and it is argued that with their help it will be possible to cover a third of Turkey's natural gas needs.

The discovery of a new field was announced extremely hastily: too little time had been allotted for its exploration, says Nate Shenkkan, an expert from the non-governmental organization Freedom House, in an interview with DW.

“If you call it an economic miracle that will have a huge impact, then you should be able to explain the dynamics of its development. For example, I would like to know the cost and rate of gas production, as well as at what price it can be sold”, — the expert pointed out.

Erdogan's statement that gas from the new field will begin to flow to Turkish consumers in 2023 is also skeptical about the difficulties associated with deep-sea production of blue fuel.

According to its indicators, the Sakarya project has practically no analogs in the world, and Turkey has no experience in offshore gas production, emphasizes Ashley Sherman. According to him, to begin with, it is necessary to drill more wells in the field: this will help to confirm the volume of deposits and to study the geology of the field more thoroughly.

Meanwhile, Turkish economist Ugur Gurses said in an interview with Gazette Duvar that the discovery of a gas field in the Black Sea will not help Turkey close the current account deficit and will not have a significant impact on the country's economy in the long term.

Analyst Ashley Sherman, however, has a slightly different opinion on this matter. Even if gas reserves turn out to be not as large as expected, and Turkey ultimately fails to abandon gas imports, the discovery of a new field is good news, he said.

Among other things, this will strengthen Ankara's position in negotiations with gas exporters, especially given the fact that many long-term and expensive contracts expire in the coming years and will need to be extended, the expert concluded.

We will remind, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu said that by 2023 Ankara will be able to supply Black Sea gas to Europe. Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez estimated the gas reserves found in the Black Sea at $65 billion. And Minister of Finance and Treasury Berat Albayrak is confident that the Black Sea gas will help Turkey to bring down the price of Russian blue fuel.

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