Istanbul, Turkey – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Friday the discovery of a large natural gas reserve off the Black Sea coast that could help the country reduce its dependence on energy imports from other countries.

The amount of gas discovered is 320 billion cubic meters. Turkey hopes to start extracting and using the gas by 2023, when Turkey marks the centenary of the founding of the republic.

Turkey hails big gas discovery in the Black Sea

Turkey has made a big discovery of natural gas in the Black Sea, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed, as he hailed the find as a historic step for the country’s troubled economy and its energy security.

President Erdoğan said that exploration by Turkey’s state-owned petroleum company had found 320bn cubic metres of gas — the largest in the country’s history. He said that he hoped that production would begin as soon as 2023.

“As a country that has suffered problems for years as a result of our dependence on foreign energy sources, I believe that we can now look to the future with greater confidence,” President Erdoğan said.

He added that Turkey would also accelerate its efforts to find gas in the Eastern Mediterranean, where it is embroiled in a bitter dispute with Greece and Cyprus over sharing of hydrocarbon resources. 

Energy imports are the most important component of Turkey’s chronic current account deficit, which has been a persistent source of financial instability for the country over the past decade. Last year, its energy import bill stood at $41bn. Its suppliers include Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan as well as Qatar and the US.

The size of the field, if confirmed, would be about 40 per cent as large as Egypt’s supergiant Zohr field that was discovered in the Eastern Mediterranean in 2015.