Oil and Gas Exploration and Untapped Resources in Turkey

Tim Haïdar

Turkey is a country that could hold many options for the oil and gas industry in the coming years. The country is thought to have proven reserves of 300 million barrels and is set to pursue a plan that will see it increase exploration of these reserves in a bid to increase domestic production.

A number of deals with major oil and gas companies and the Turkish authorities have also taken place in recent months, as the industry seeks to explore the untapped potential that lies within the Black Sea and within unconventional reserves.

To discuss the possibility of the two parties collaborating on oil and gas operations in a third country, recently the senior vice president of Exxon Mobil, Mark Albers, has also met with the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO).

Following the meeting, Albers was quoted by Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman saying: "Exxon Mobil has been working in Turkey since 1905, involved especially in exploration and production operations.

"We are looking forward to seeing the next phase of our relations with the TPAO and also the results of the exploration we are carrying out in the Black Sea."

Black Sea Exploration

UK-based company Melrose Resources is another company looking to carry out oil and gas exploration activities in the Black Sea region.

In an update on its operations in the region, the company said that it was in the process of interpreting 2D seismic data acquired in the South West Kanun area under its South Mardin licenses.

Initial results were said to be "encouraging," with a 20 percent chance of gross recoverable prospective resources of 85 MMbbl of oil. The company is now planning on developing an exploration well in 2011 to confirm this.

"A successful discovery at South West Kanun would open a new exploration play in Southern Turkey and three other prospects have been identified on the new 2D data set with combined recoverable prospective resources of 53 MMbbl of oil," Melrose Resources added.

The company also acquired two exploration blocks in the shallow waters off the Black Sea coast of Romania and oil has already been discovered in one of the areas.

Oil and Gas Acquisitions

TransAtlantic Petroleum Ltd recently announced that it had entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Turkish company Zorlu Enerji Elektrik Uretim A.S with regard to acquiring the company's oil and gas exploration and production operations.

Under the agreement TransAtlantic Petroleum would acquire 18 oil and gas exploration licenses and one production lease, which equate to approximately 1.3 million gross acres in the Thrace Basin and 730,000 gross acres in central Turkey.

N Malone Mitchell III, the TransAtlantic Petroluem's chairman, said that the deal means that it has a partnership with "one of the leading companies in Turkey."

"We also build on our presence in the Thrace Basin, obtaining acreage prospective for the shallow gas targets we have successfully developed in Edirne as well as deeper conventional and unconventional gas," he added.

Plans in the near future are for fracture stimulation equipment to be used in the Thrace Basin to develop reserves that were previously deemed uneconomic.

Unconventional Reserves

TPAO also recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Transatlantic/TEMI companies to maintain production of natural gas from unconventional reserves. The deal was overseen by Taner Yildiz, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources.

Turkey is looking to capitalise on the development of techniques for the extraction of unconventional reserves in the US in recent years, which according to TPAO "resonated all over the world."

"With the start of the same operations, Turkey will be one of the six countries in Europe where the application of such special techniques are primarily realised," the company said.

Initially the new techniques will be applied to two licences, one from Southeastern Anatolia and one from the Thrace Region.


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