* No plans to bid for Algerian blocks
* To bid with Royal Dutch Shell offshore Lebanon
* Drilling first well for shale gas with Shell
By Nidhi Verma
NEW DELHI, June 11 Exxon Mobil Corp is
in talks with Turkey's TPAO to buy a stake in a block in the
Black Sea, and the country is on the hunt for shale gas in its
own territory, the acting head of the state-owned energy company
said on Tuesday.
"ExxonMobil wants to be in the Black Sea with us, in deep
offshore," TPAO's acting president and chief executive, Besim
Sisman, told Reuters on the sidelines of an industry conference.
"It's on the Ukraine and Romania side," he added, without
giving further details on the talks between Turkey's state owned
energy company and Exxon, the world's largest publicly-traded
An Exxon spokesman said the company did not comment on
Turkey, keen to reduce its dependence on imports, has
stepped up exploration efforts in the Black Sea and
Mediterranean in cooperation with foreign companies. Turkey has
yet to find any oil.
Its domestic production is in decline and covered only about
7 percent of demand in 2012, according to the International
Energy Agency (IEA). Of its hefty imports, about 39 percent came
from Iran in 2012 but sanctions have resulted in sharp cuts.
The country is also seeking exploration and production
assets elsewhere in the region and is just starting to look for
shale gas on its own territory.
Sisman said TPAO would not bid for blocks in Algeria, a turn
around from January when Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said TPAO
planned to take part in upcoming Algerian oil exploration
tenders. He did not give a reason for the change.
In Iraq, "we have four projects and that is enough for us,"
Sisman said, adding that "it is not our business to go to the
north side of Iraq."
Turkey is hoping to work on exploration and production in
northern Iraq through commercial contracts with Russian and U.S.
companies, Yildiz told Reuters last month, after Turkey's prime
minister said that a Turkish company had a contract in place
The country has increasingly courted Iraqi Kurdistan over
oil and gas, upsetting the central government in Baghdad which
says it alone has authority to control oil exports from Iraq.
Sisman said TPAO would join the latest bidding round for
blocks offshore in Lebanon with Royal Dutch Shell Plc,
which it already partners with in the Mediterranean and in shale
TPAO is drilling a first well for shale gas with Shell
currently, Sisman said, and is talking to other companies for
further work in the sector.
"Small and big, they are coming to Turkey ... but we want to
choose only strong companies" with experience of fracking, the
process used to extract oil and gas from shale rocks, he said.
Sisman said TPAO is scouting for oil assets in Africa as it
wants to take more risk to generate higher returns.