(Updates with more quotes)
By Orhan Coskun
ANKARA, June 23 U.S. oil firm ExxonMobil
is in talks with state-run Turkish Petroleum Corporation over a
venture to explore for shale gas in the country's southeast and
northwest regions, a Turkish energy official said.
Exxon held talks with TPAO in 2012 to over a partnership in
shale, but the negotiations were inconclusive. Turkish officials
say talks have since advanced and are likely to result in an
"ExxonMobil is coming to Turkey to partner up with TPAO,"
Selami Incedalci, the head of the energy ministry's General
Directorate of Petroleum Affairs, said late on Sunday.
He said ExxonMobil was interested in onshore opportunities
in the southeast and Thrace, in northwestern Turkey.
Turkey wants to reduce its annual energy bill of around $60
billion and is developing domestic resources including nuclear,
coal, solar and wind energy.
With domestic gas consumption rising, and its location
well-placed to supply international markets, major exploitable
reserves could be a game changer for Turkey's economy and highly
lucrative for whoever finds them.
Investors from the United States, Europe and Canada are also
interested in Turkey's shale gas and oil, Incedalci said, adding
that the Ministry was planning to hold talks with potential
investors in October.
Royal Dutch Shell is also drilling for shale gas in
the region around the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, while
Canadian firm TransAtlantic Petroleum is also active in the
Estimates of how big Turkey's shale gas reserves are vary
One energy official said data from some international bodies
suggested Turkey could have a massive 20 trillion cubic metres
(cbm) of total reserves. Another industry expert said proven
reserves so far stood at just 6-7 billion cbm.
That compares with U.S. Energy Intelligence Administration's
(EIA) assessment of 7,299 trillion cubic feet of estimated shale
gas reserves in the United States, among the world's top
producers of the commodity.
(Reporting by Orhan Coskun, Writing by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing
by Nick Tattersall and Louise Heavens)