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Turkey's new domestic seismic vessel a huge step forward for oil production

Turkey is looking towards greater autonomy by discovering and extracting its own oil reserves. A huge step in this direction is to be taken in early 2015, with the launch of Turkey's first domestic seismic vessel.

According to Taner Yildiz, Turkey's energy and natural resources minister, the plan is to launch the ship in March 2015 in order to have it start operations at some point in September or October. It will be launched onto the Black Sea, despite the fact that no oil reserves have so far been found in Turkey's part of the region.

This could be a huge development for Turkey if the vessel is successful. However, there are no guarantees in oil production. The country is taking a big risk with the $300 million (£198 million) investment, but it is one that looks set to pay off in the future.


What is the domestic seismic vessel?

The vessel, which is currently being constructed in Turkey's Tuzla shipyard, will be sent out to explore the Black Sea to search for oil reserves. The significance of this is that it is the first of its kind to be owned by Turkey itself.

Several expeditions have been launched by Turkey in tandem with BP, Exxon and Petrobras before, all to no avail. However, once the seismic vessel is completed the nation will be able to launch its own operations without outside assistance.


What are the project's aims?

Creating a domestic seismic vessel is certainly not cheap. In total, Turkey will be spending around $300 million on its construction and the expeditions it will be sent on. However, if it manages to find oil then it will be all worth it.

"We want to get see a return for the $300 million investment that we will spend for exploration in the Black Sea," said Mr Yildiz. "We will spend this money because we believe there is oil there."

Despite the lack of concrete evidence for oil reserves, Mr Yildiz stressed that the mission was likely to be a success. "This time we are hopeful to find hydrocarbons. If there is oil, we will find it," he said.

This is likely to be a long-term project. Previous ventures have been unsuccessful not because the Black Sea is short on oil reserves, but because of its size. "The Black Sea is a very big area so it is not possible to find reserves with just a few drillings," said Turkish Petroleum's deputy general director Besim Sisman.


What does this mean for Turkey's oil production?

Turkey is largely dependent on overseas oil reserves at the moment. It is estimated that the nation needs around 700,000 barrels of oil every day, and importing this costs the country a lot of money. Despite its success as a hub for the oil and gas industry, the general consensus is that Turkey needs to increase its domestic oil production.

This is something the country has paid a lot of attention to in recent years, and it has seen great success. In 2014 alone, Turkey was able to reduce the value of the oil and gas it imports by $1.9 billion, thanks to 220 drillings made by 45 different companies.

If oil can be found in the Black Sea, Turkey would benefit hugely. There is also the potential that the country will eventually be able to produce a surplus of oil, enabling it to export to other nations.

The domestic seismic vessel seems likely to succeed in its operations. While no full oil reserves have been found in the Black Sea yet, there have been indications of oil and gas in every drilling made so far. This makes the $300 million investment likely to pay off for Turkey.

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