BAKU, Azerbaijan, June 29. An important event took place in the Turkish energy sector in 2020 – the Sakarya gas field with reserves of up to 540 billion cubic meters of gas was discovered not far from the Turkish Black Sea coast.
The discovery of an additional source of energy was an important step toward energy independence for Türkiye, which imports 90 percent of natural gas from Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Nigeria.
The share of gas in the country's energy consumption is about one third, the rest is replenished by oil (mostly also imported) and electricity generated from coal.
The Turkish government does not plan to stop importing gas, although the new Sakarya field is supposed to reduce the country’s energy dependence. It was also said by the Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Fatih Donmez.
This decision is comprehensible because the first part of gas from the Sakarya field should enter the Turkish domestic market in the first quarter of 2023.
It is planned to increase the production volume up to 3.4 - 4 billion cubic meters per year at the initial stage, despite the fact that Türkiye consumed more than 59 billion cubic meters in 2021.
Production of gas in the Sakarya field is planned to be increased to 15 billion cubic meters from 2027, per year, which will be about 25 percent of the total gas consumption.
However, this figure is relevant today, but in the next five years, this percentage may change. Gas consumption in Türkiye is growing every year.
For comparison: according to the international independent research agency ‘Enerdata’, Türkiye consumed 45 billion cubic meters of gas in 2019, and 48 billion cubic meters - in 2020. According to the Turkish Ministry of Energy, the country’s gas consumption will exceed 60 billion cubic meters in 2022.
The gradual slight decrease in demand for gas is possible after 2026 since, by that time, the first nuclear power plant of Türkiye (Akkuyu) will have to reach a maximum capacity of 35 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. A raise in capacity will cover about 10 percent of energy from the general needs of the country.
A decrease in coal production is planned in Türkiye, from which more than a third of the country's electricity is produced. Türkiye temporarily closed a number of coal plants in 2021 due to the high level of greenhouse gas emissions generated by coal-fired power plants.
Therefore, coal production in Türkiye totally decreased by 8 percent from 2018 through 2021. Some of Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant's electricity will be used to replace coal if the downward trend in the coal industry continues.
Therefore, Türkiye will not yet be able to become completely energy independent at this stage (until 2027). Demand for gas rises as production of it grows.
The Sakarya field will undoubtedly reduce the energy dependence of Türkiye to a certain level.
Gas from this field will help reduce import costs and should help lower prices for consumers.
Meanwhile, the Turkish government intends to continue exploring promising areas in the Black and Mediterranean Seas.
EastWestStream columnist: Alena Pavlenko
Follow the author on Twitter: @Pv_Alyona