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Black Sea gas discovery to strengthen Turkey’s position in Russia & Iran gas deals

Turkey’s recent discovery of its largest-ever natural gas reserve in the Black Sea will strengthen Ankara’s position in future gas deals with Russia and Iran, a retired Turkish ambassador has said.

Black Sea gas discovery to strengthen Turkey’s position in Russia & Iran gas deals

“From next year, we will hold new contract negotiations with Russia for natural gas. We will hold [negotiations] with Iran in 2025 too. When we were signing long-term agreements before, we were not in a powerful position,” Mithat Rende told Turkish Hürriyet.

“Our consumption was increasing rapidly, and we had to put our future under guarantee. Therefore, we were not in a particularly strong position at the table, and they were able to impose things,” Rende said.

But now, with the latest discovery, Rende said that he believes this will provide Turkey a more powerful position in future negotiations.

“Even though this natural gas reserve will cover one-third of Turkey’s natural gas consumption, the fact that this discovery has been made will strengthen Turkey’s position in the future negotiations of the contract,” he said.

Turkish President Recep Erdoğan announced in August that Turkey discovered its largest-ever natural gas reserve in the Black Sea, which has a capacity of 320 billion cu m. Erdoğan also stressed that initial findings reveal that this reserve stands as just a part of even bigger reserves in the same area.

When asked if this discovery will reflect in Turkey’s foreign policy or whether it will bring a shift to Ankara’s policy in Caucasia, Rende said he does not think that will be the case. “We will still buy our natural gas from Azerbaijan. But our fingers were burnt before because of these long-term contracts,” he said. “Maybe a chance will arise for this to not happen again. Thus, it is greatly important that we are strong at the negotiation table”.

According to the 2019 report of the Energy Market Regulatory Board, Turkey imported 45.21 billion cu m of natural gas in 2019, out of which Russia supplied about 33.6 % with Iran marking a 17.1 % of the share.

Rende said this discovery will not bring a shift in the axis, and cooperation and relations with Russia will continue. “But this is important: Turkey is foreign-dependent on energy," he said.

“It is important that it decreases foreign dependence by one third. But of course, there is one more thing; what will its position be at the energy basket? Will we be able to carry out the investments we projected in renewable energy Especially in wind and solar power. These are important as well. But in every case, Turkey’s position will be strengthened, both in upcoming negotiations and for it using indigenous resources for a part of its energy consumption,” Rende said. “This will bring Turkey a big advantage.”

A prestigious discovery

While Rende said the discovery is a “very important economic resource,” it is also a “prestigious discovery” as well.

“Now Turkey will have the chance to show that it is a player in the upstream. Before, [Turkey] was positioned at the downstream and the midstream, but now it is in a position where it is the producing country. This is also an important development,” he said.

Rende also said that Turkey reaching its deep-sea drilling capacity is also a highly significant development. “Having the chance and ability is important,” he said, referring to the activities of Turkey’s drilling and seismic research vessels and the data gathered from these."

Author: Hazal Özcan