Turkey has made an energy discovery in the Black Sea, most likely natural gas, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Wednesday.
The two officials spoke after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to deliver Turks some “good news” on Friday that would usher in a new era for the nation. He has also vowed to pursue energy exploration in contested Mediterranean waters that has triggered confrontations with the European Union. The president’s office declined to comment.
The size and depth of the discovery, and whether it will be feasible to extract it, remain unclear.
The Turkish leader didn’t elaborate on what he intended to announce, but the lira extended gains against the dollar after the news and was trading 2% stronger at 5:45 p.m. local time. After he spoke, the benchmark Borsa Istanbul 100 Index had also risen 2%, while shares of refiner Turkiye Petrol Rafinerileri AS, or Tupras, and petrochemical manufacturer Petkim Petrokimya Holding AS jumped 8.1% and 9.9% respectively.
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said last month that the Turkish drilling ship Fatih had started exploration in the so-called Tuna-1 zone, located off Turkey’s western Black Sea coast.
The discovery comes at a time of heightened tensions over territorial disputes with Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey is actively searching for oil and gas resources in contested waters. France has temporarily increased its military presence to ward off Turkish steps, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday said the EU was concerned over the increased tensions in the area.
Erdogan said on Wednesday the pressure wouldn’t make him change direction.
“No colonialist power can deprive our country from rich oil and gas resources estimated to be in this region,” he said in televised remarks on Wednesday during the opening of a solar energy factory near Ankara.