The 4th drillship en route to Turkey will begin operations this summer

The fourth drillship acquired by Turkey last year is on its way to Turkey, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez said on Monday.

“Our fourth drillship, anchored in South Korea, will be in Turkey in about two months,” Dönmez said on Twitter.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced in November that the vessel had been added to the country’s inventory which includes drillships Fatih, Yavuz and Kanuni, all acquired in recent years.

Capable of operating in harsh sea conditions and even in high-pressure reservoirs, the fourth drillship is expected to start exploration activities this summer.

Operated by state-owned energy company Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO), the ship can operate at a maximum depth of 3,665 meters (12,024 feet).

The 238 meter long and 42 meter wide vessel weighs 68,000 gross tons and has a maximum drilling depth of 12,200 meters. It has a tower height of 104 meters and a crew capacity of 200 people.

The latest purchase comes as Turkey ramps up its hydrocarbon exploration activities.

Last month, the country’s first vessel, Fatih, began drilling its third exploration well in the Sakarya gas field in the Black Sea region.

Turkey is currently carrying out exploration activities in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. In addition to the three drillships, it also has two seismic research vessels, Oruç Reis and Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa.

Located about 150 kilometers (93 miles) off the coast of Turkey in the Black Sea, the Sakarya gas field is home to the country’s largest natural gas discovery. Fatih has discovered 540 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas there since August 2020.

The size of the find is enough to meet household demand for 30 years, Dönmez said at a separate meeting on Monday.

Ankara aims to start pumping gas from the field to its main grid in 2023, with a sustained production plateau from 2027 or 2028.

“We will include this gas in the system in the first quarter of 2023,” Dönmez said. “This gas reserve is large enough to meet the needs of all residences in Turkey for 30 years.”

The country began delivering the pipes in January that will be used for the pipeline under the Black Sea to bring the gas ashore.

Scheduled to be built this year, the pipeline, which will stretch approximately 170 kilometers, will connect wells in the region to the main network.

Turkey is expected to start laying the deep-sea pipelines once all the pipes have been brought to the port of Filyos in Zonguldak province on the northern Black Sea. The process should take about five months.

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Sharon P. Juarez