As civil unrest stops shale operations, Turkey looks to Iran for oil and gas

Turkey Iran flags
Source: DollarPhotoClub

Shale gas exploration in the Turkish province of Diyarbakır have been stalled after two separate Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist attacks. Curfew has been imposed in the provinces of Şırnak and Diyarbakır after PKK members detonated a car bomb near a police checkpoint in Şırnak early on Sunday, killing two police officers and wounding five others.

Following the news, President-elect of the International Association for Energy Economics (IAEE) Gürkan Kumbaroğlu told Today’s Zaman newspaper that while shale operations in the country have been interrupted, Turkey should look at developing a deeper trade relationship with Iran, a country that possesses the world’s second-largest natural gas reserves.

“Turkish companies could go to South Pars [the world’s largest gas field]. Turkish companies are warming to the idea of investments in Iran. If we are not proactive, we’ll become subcontractors,” he said.

“The Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) and the state-owned Turkish Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ) could search for gas on these fields. We are organizing an energy summit in Antalya that Iran will attend. Iran’s participation will be important. This is an important indicator for Turkish companies and their investments,” Kumaroğlu concluded.

Shale exploration has gone off to a slow start in Turkey, although initial estimates were promising. The EIA’s report from 2013 estimated that the Dadas Shale in the Southeast Anatolian Basin – a formation which geologists compare to the Woodford Shale – and the Hamitabat Shale in the Thrace Basin contain 163 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of shale gas in-place, with 24 Tcf of that amount estimated as technically recoverable. In addition, these two shale basins may also contain 94 billion barrels of shale oil in-place, with technically recoverable resources pegged at 4.7 billion barrels.

According to Today’s Zaman, the TPAO and Royal Dutch Shell started hydraulic fracturing operations in the Saribugday-#1 natural gas field (Dadas Shale), in September 2012. Under the terms of the TPAO-Shell agreement, Shell was expected to drill five wells into the Dadas Shale.

But they were not alone. Anatolia Energy drilled their first Dadas Shale evaluation well, Caliktepe-#2, on their Bismil lease area in early January, 2012, while TransAtlantic Petroleum reported flowing gas and light oil from their two Dadas Shale test wells, Goksu-#1 and Bahir-#1. In the Thrace Basin, much of the activity is conducted particularly by TPAO and TransAtlantic Petroleum, but there has been no information released on shale well tests or performance by the companies so far.

Back in 2012, Turkish Association of Petroleum Geologists (TPJD) President İsmail Bahtiyar said in an interview that: “Turkey’s current consumption of shale gas stands at 43.8 billion cubic meters. However, the presumed reserves are estimated to be 13 trillion cubic meters. If the reserves are proven, this would supply energy needs for up to 40 years.”

However, the volatile situation in the region is likely to deal a blow to the fledgeling industry already hindered by the fiscal regime with its 12.5% royalty and 20% corporate tax.

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