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Turkey says Black Sea gas find bigger than first thought

Istanbul

TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that a vast natural gas field discovered in the Black Sea was even bigger than first estimated.

In August, Turkey said it had found gas reserves of 320 billion cubic metres (11.3 trillion cubic feet), a discovery that could help wean it off imported energy.

But on Saturday, Mr Erdogan, who was on board a drilling ship in the Black Sea, said that the field was now 405 billion cubic metres, and that gas from the site could start being pumped into people's homes in 2023.

The Fatih drill vessel made the discovery in the Tuna-1 field off the coast of the town of Eregli after beginning the search in July.

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Turkey hopes that the discovery can help ease its dependence on energy supplies from other countries, notably Russia, which comes at a high cost at a time when the local currency is weakening and the economy is more fragile because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Analysts have urged caution over the discovery's significance, pointing out that deep sea drilling is expensive and takes time.

Turkey consumes between 45 billion and 50 billion cubic metres of natural gas each year, representing about 11 billion euros (S$17.5 billion).

Ankara has said that the Black Sea find will not, however, deter it from exploring in the eastern Mediterranean, despite accusations from neighbouring Greece that its long-time rival is violating maritime borders.

Turkey last week resumed exploration in disputed areas of the Mediterranean, defying calls from fellow Nato members including the United States to withdraw.

Mr Erdogan said on Saturday that Turkey was "determined to defend its interests" in the Mediterranean but did not want to "encroach on the rights of others". AFP

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