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Türkiye aims to drill for oil off Somali coast next year

Saturday April 20, 2024

Energy and Natural Resources Minister Alparslan Bayraktar delivers a speech in Ankara, Türkiye, April 18, 2024. (AA Photo)

Türkiye hopes to conduct a deep-sea oil drilling operation off the Somali coast in 2025, the country's energy minister said on Friday shortly after the two nations agreed to extend their cooperation by signing an oil and natural gas cooperation deal last month.

"There is a place on the Somali seaside we consider may have oil reserves. We will start seismic work, we want to do deep sea drilling in 2025," Energy and Natural Resources Minister Alparslan Bayraktar said in an interview on private broadcaster NTV.

Türkiye and Somalia signed a deal on offshore oil and natural gas cooperation earlier in March, further strengthening ties after agreeing on a defense deal this year.

"With this agreement, we will carry out joint activities to bring the resources of Somalia to the Somali people. We aim to strengthen Türkiye's presence in the Horn of Africa with new collaborations in the field of energy," Bayraktar said at the time on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

"Oil and natural gas exploration offshore from Somalia, and it looks more like oil for now, will start very soon in the areas we have identified. We will maybe send our seismic (exploration) vessel there in the first phase," he said separately in a panel, without elaborating.

The deal includes transportation, distribution, refining, sales and services operations of oil and other products from land and sea projects.

In February, Türkiye signed a defense and economic cooperation agreement with Somalia and will provide maritime security support to help the African country defend its territorial waters.

Türkiye, a close ally of the Horn of Africa nation, has invested in its education, infrastructure and health, and given it extensive humanitarian aid.

According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, bilateral trade volume with Somalia reached $187.3 million in 2018 and $250.85 million in 2019.

The minister on Friday evaluated Türkiye's energy agenda including oil production in the Gabar field in Türkiye's southeastern Şırnak province, which the officials announced has exceeded 40,000 barrels in daily production recently.

"Turkish Petroleum was producing 33,000 barrels of oil at the beginning of 2016. Today, only Gabar has exceeded 40,000 barrels of daily production. Our goal is to elevate Gabar's daily production to 100,000 barrels by the end of the year. Intensive work continues in this regard," Bayraktar said.

Moreover, he highlighted the economic contribution of the oil field and said that in today's terms, once when the daily production reaches the 100,000 figure it corresponds to $3 billion in value, that stays within the country. He also said they have a very ambitious exploration program for 2024 with plans to drill 140 wells throughout the year.

The minister also touched upon the topic of the shutdown of the Iraq-Türkiye oil pipeline, which is still stuck in limbo, nearly a year after the halt of the oil deliveries.

Iraq-Türkiye pipeline

"The Iraq-Türkiye Pipeline is a reflection of our neighborly relationship with Iraq, dating back to the 1970s. It is an important project for the region and the world oil market ... We always kept the section of the line within our borders in working order," he said.

"We carried out a study for the maintenance of this entire line. We completed the necessary maintenance in locations affected by the earthquake," he added.

The Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline has been offline since March 2023, when Ankara halted flows following an arbitration ruling by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

The ICC ordered Ankara to pay Baghdad damages of $1.5 billion over what it said were unauthorized exports by Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) between 2014 and 2018.

Türkiye, on the other hand, said the ICC had recognized most of Ankara's demands. The Energy Ministry said the chamber ordered Iraq to compensate Türkiye for several violations concerning the case.

"I announced this to the world at an international conference in October last year. I said that our oil pipeline is technically ready to operate as of Oct. 4, 2023. Since that day, there is still no flow from the pipeline," noted Bayraktar.

"We have an ongoing case with Iraq. Türkiye is not responsible for the difficulties experienced here. There is a problem here due to the disagreement between the administration in northern Iraq and the central government," the minister said, referring to KRG, a semi-autonomous entity controlling Iraq's north.

Earlier in March Reuters reported that foreign companies in the KRG, share responsibility for the delay in restarting crude exports, as they have failed to provide revised contracts, according to the Iraqi Oil Ministry.

Moreover, Bayraktar expressed Ankara's openness to cooperation regarding the issue. "Our president has a visit to Baghdad on Monday. Maybe there could be a continued visit to Irbil, too. We will also be accompanying him in the delegation. Hopefully, we want this line to be fully used. We did not reach maximum capacity on the line earlier but at least Iraqi oil and the oil produced by Türkiye need to reach Ceyhan," he concluded.


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