Türkiye’s new offshore support vessel to join Black Sea gas efforts

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Türkiye is preparing to deploy its newly-arrived multipurpose offshore support vessel on its first duty, the energy and natural resources ministry said Monday, over a month after the ship joined the country’s expanding energy fleet.

Named “Mukavemet,” the vessel will start operating in the Black Sea, where Türkiye has gradually discovered about 710 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas since August 2020, a find that is estimated to have a market value of $1 trillion.

Having arrived in Türkiye in mid-December, the vessel that can run remotely operated underwater vehicles, known as ROVs, will be deployed in February, the ministry said in a statement that highlighted ramped-up efforts to bring onshore the gas, which Türkiye is set to start pumping into the national grid by the end of March.

The statement said about 10,000 people and over 50 vessels are currently on duty in operations in the Black Sea, covering everything from infrastructure, equipment and laying offshore and onshore pipes that will be linked to a gas processing facility at the Filyos Port in the northern province of Zonguldak.

Türkiye boasts an energy fleet owned by only five countries in the world, the ministry said. The fleet features four drilling ships, Fatih, Kanuni, Yavuz and Abdülhamid Han. All four ships are named after Ottoman sultans. It also owns two seismic research ships, Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa and Oruç Reis.

The latest addition, Mukavemet is named after the “Turkish Resistance Organization.” It is currently anchored at the Filyos Port.

“Known as an underwater construction ship, Mukavemet will support the ongoing underwater operations,” the ministry statement read.

The 100-meter-long and 21-meter-wide vessel can simultaneously remotely operate more than two underwater robots, it noted.

The ship features cranes equipped to place heavy tonnage equipment on the seabed, said Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez.

“One of them features about 150 and the other 40 tons. An underwater platform is also being prepared for underwater robots,” Dönmez noted. “We carry out operations at a depth of 2,200 meters remotely over the ships.”

Works almost complete

Türkiye announced its first gas discovery in August 2020 in the Tuna-1 well in the Sakarya gas field, which was then estimated at 405 bcm and was the world’s largest offshore find that year.

It made another discovery in 2021 in the Amasra-1 well, which was at the time said to be holding around 135 bcm of gas. It lastly discovered an additional 58 bcm at the Çaycuma-1 field.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in late December said reserves in the Sakarya field were revised to 652 bcm, up from 540 bcm previously.

Türkiye has completed the pipelaying process of the 170-kilometer-deep (105-mile-deep) seabed pipeline that will feed the Black Sea gas into the grid.

Dönmez on Friday said about 90% of the works on the seabed have been completed.

Construction of the onshore gas processing facility that is being set up at the port of Filyos in the northern province of Zonguldak is also almost complete.

In the process until the reserve revisal, Türkiye had drilled 13 wells in the Sakarya field. It looks to add another 20 or 25 wells in the period ahead.

About 10 million cubic meters (mcm) of gas per day is expected to be transferred in the initial phase, while the infrastructure has been set up to enable this figure to peak at 40 million cubic meters through 2026.

Set to be backed by the government, the projected fixed investment to be made by the state energy company Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) in the Sakarya field has been determined as around TL 145.2 billion and an additional 1,018 people are expected to be employed for the project.

“We are very lucky to have witnessed and been involved in such an important event. Yes, our work is difficult. We have left most of it behind. We are in the last few weeks now,” said TPAO General Manager Melih Han Bilgin.

Türkiye is almost completely dependent on imports to cover its energy needs, which leaves it particularly vulnerable to rising costs that skyrocketed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The country’s annual gas consumption rose from 48 bcm in 2020 to a record 60 bcm in 2021, according to official figures. Erdoğan said 2022’s consumption was expected to stand at around 53.5 bcm.

Earlier estimates had put the figure at up to 63 bcm, but the power generated from renewable resources this year drove the gas consumption downward.

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