* Exploration so far focused on southeast, west
* Seismic data suggests reserves in three central provinces
* Shell findings will be closely watched
By Orhan Coskun
ANKARA, Feb 20 Turkish seismic surveys have
uncovered evidence of shale gas in three central provinces
outside the southeastern and western Thrace regions where
exploration has so far been concentrating, Energy Minister Taner
Yildiz said on Wednesday.
Shale development is progressing slowly in Europe, where
Poland and Britain also have plans, yet it has already
transformed the U.S. energy market, halving U.S. gas prices in
the last five years.
Yildiz told Turkey's maiden shale gas conference, attended
by more than a dozen energy firms, that surveys had suggested
there were shale gas deposits in the provinces of Konya, Ankara
"Turkey wants to discover its potential in east and southeast
Anatolia as well as in Thrace (in the west). We have also come
across some positive findings in central Anatolia," Yildiz told
Turkey is hoping to find shale reserves big enough to help
reduce its dependency on energy imports.
It is in talks with foreign firms about widening exploration
after encouraging early signs, industry officials told Reuters
Royal Dutch Shell is already drilling for shale gas
in the region around the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, while
Canada's TransAtlantic Petroleum is active in the
region and in Thrace.
"Turkey is one of the luckiest countries for shale gas in
terms of its soil structure," TransAtlantic Petroleum's country
manager Selami Uras told Reuters, adding Turkey's potential to
produce energy from shale gas was high.
TransAtlantic said in October it had completed its first
horizontal oil producing well in Turkey, an investment in the
sort of production technology required to exploit shale
reserves. It also plans to step up exploration.
"We have the first fracking equipment in Turkey, and we now
have a stable output of 340 barrels per day from the Bahar-1 oil
well in Diyarbakir," Uras said.
"We are highly optimistic about the Bahar-2 well. We dug
around 70 wells in 2011, 69 in 2012 and we will dig another 60
this year, 20 percent of which will be exploration wells, most
of them unconventional wells," he said.
Unconventional oil and gas resources such as shale are often
located in the same sedimentary basins as conventional oil and
gas fields, as appears to be the case in the vast Dadas Shale
around Diyarbakir where TransAtlantic and fellow Canadian-listed
firm Valeura Energy are drilling.
In many cases, the shale or tight rocks which are targeted
by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing were the
original source for the oil and gas found in more conventional
ALL EYES ON SHELL
Turkey's low taxes, existing oil and gas infrastructure,
high domestic energy demand and role as a hub for international
shipping help make it attractive as a potential shale gas
Estimates of how big Turkey's reserves might be vary wildly.
One senior energy official said data from some international
bodies suggested Turkey could have 20 trillion cubic metres
(cbm) of total reserves. Another industry expert said proven
reserves so far stood at just 6-7 billion cbm.
By comparison, the U.S. Energy Information Administration
estimates there are reserves of 1.2 trillion cbm (42 trillion
cubic feet) in Ukraine, where Shell signed a landmark $10
billion shale gas deal last month.
"In shale gas, you have to dig lots of wells to determine
the amount of reserves," Turkish energy analyst Necdet Pamir
told Reuters. "It's still too early to make forecasts, but it's
said that 1.8 trillion cubic metres of shale gas exists in
southeast and northwest Turkey, which is a significant amount."
Delegates at the Ankara shale conference underlined the
importance of Shell's work in Turkey and said its findings would
be a major determinant for further foreign investment.
The company is expected to drill three more wells in
Diyarbakir this year. Shell Upstream International Director Andy
Brown told Reuters last week that the company would only be able
to make an assessment of Turkey's shale gas potential after the
first well was completed.
"Many other major companies will follow its example if it
comes up with positive findings," oil and natural gas
engineering professor Ender Okandan told Reuters.