Fatih (Conqueror), the drill ship that made the discovery.

Turkey Finds Natural Gas Resources in the Black Sea: What’s Next?

On the days building up to Friday, 21st of August, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his cabinet, supported by news reports from Reuters and Bloomberg, was on a campaign to build hype around an “evangel” announcement Mr. Erdoğan was going to make at the date.

Hence, as with every major announcement there is, there was a wave of speculations as to what the announcement was going to be: ranging from economic reforms to finding of natural gas resources. As it turns out, the latter was right.

The Announcement

At around 15.00 Turkey time, Mr. Erdoğan went on stage in the historic Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul. By that time, news reports were almost certain that Turkey had found 800+ billon cubic meters of natural gas off the coast of Zonguldak in the Tuna-I drill site. Though it was at a scale much smaller than anticipated, around 320 billion cubic meters, the Turkish president was of joy as he announced the considerably large discovery. His remarks were assertive.

“There is no stopping and resting until we become a net exporter in energy,”

-Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Turkish news outlets, both the pro-government ones and those who oppose it, were quick to haul the discovery as a huge milestone in the Turkish history: a truly historic moment. Yet, international markets lacked such enthusiasm, with the USD/TRY parity showing no signs of pro-Turkish valuation.

Berat Albayrak, the Minister of Treasury and Finance of Turkey

The response of the public was of mixed feelings as well. Being famously patriotic, people of all ages and backgrounds were celebrating the fact that their nation had made a discovery that was going to, sooner or later, be of help in strengthening the lately fragile economic stance of the republic. Be that as is may, as Berat Albayrak (pictured) -president’s son-in-law and the Minister of Treasury and Finance- talked highly of the discovery and how they made it possible, a divisive inquiry was shaping in the minds of the public: What’s Next?

Two Sides of the Coin: How the Public Perceives It

After the announcement the main paths of thought, categorized on the basis of social media posts building up to and after the announcement, could be brought down to two: those who fear the power it may grant — the sceptics and those who celebrate.

  1. The Sceptics

As they celebrated the discovery, some were afraid of it at the same time. They were afraid of the economic power it may grant Mr. Erdoğan.

Acknowledging that the single discovery was of no size to pay for the pile of debt the republic carries, their fear derived from the possibility that more discoveries can be on the way. A twitter user said:

I am happy that about the discovery… I really am. Don’t call me a traitor. My only wish is that we had found the gas after Erdoğan regime was over with. He will now use it as his playing card.

They do have a point. As of late, it just so appears that the only thing withholding Mr. Erdoğan from taking yet more controversial steps and picking more international battles appears to be his fear that the already crumbling economy would spiral down in a such scenario. Should more gas fields are to be found, this would give him a stably-priced resource to support the economy with as he takes his steps.

Yet, as of now, we are only to wait and see what he does next.

2. The Celebrators

On the other hand, the feeling of joy was engulfing sheer numbers of Turks as they celebrated the discovery. Mr. Erdoğan’s fanatic supporters were assertive in their remarks as one Twitter user stated:

You get lost in your dreams, while we sail the seas. The blessing of Hagia Sophia, endless gratitude! #MüjdelerOlsun

The hashtag #MüjdelerOlsun (let there be evangels) was trending in Turkey as of the writing of this article, with more than 275 thousand tweets and counting.

Though not so fanatically, many opponents cherished the news as well; hoping that this would be the beam of hope that they could have a better economy.

As per the sceptics, we will only wait and see whether the news bears evangels or a single day of good news.

GIRVAK Fellow | Microsoft Student Ambassador | SDSN Youth SDG Coordinator