Turkey, Shell to sign exploration agreement

Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yildiz, eyeing recent developments in neighboring Iraq and Cyprus, said his country will sign a contract with Royal Dutch Shell PLC next week for offshore oil and gas exploration. The minister did not say where the exploration would be conducted.

Turkey’s move follows an announcement that Iraq’s government approved an agreement with Shell and Mitsubishi Corp., forming a joint venture to gather gas from three major oil fields.

The joint venture, Basrah Gas Co., is comprised of Iraq’s South Gas Co. (51%), Shell (44%), and Mitsubishi (5%), and will gather raw gas that is currently flared because of a lack of systems to collect it.

Shell said it will provide project management and technical expertise aimed at facilitating the learning and development of Iraqi staff to progressively assume key positions in the management of the company.

“Capturing this gas will create a reliable supply of energy for Iraq,” said Shell Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser.

The joint venture will collect and process gas from the Rumaila, Zubair and West Qurna 1, and Majnoon fields in the southern part of the country.

Shell said the primary market for the gas will be Iraq, but any surplus can potentially be exported.

Some 700 MMscfd of gas is currently burned off in southern Iraq. At current prices, the gas is worth about $1.8 billion/year.

Turkey's move also comes after Cyprus’ government, which is not recognized by Ankara, struck a deal with Noble Energy for gas exploration off the southern coast of the divided island.

In September, Turkey sent a ship of its own, the Piri Reis, to the region after signing an accord for gas exploration with the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which only Ankara recognizes.

Turkey says the Greek-speaking Cyprus government has no right to conduct offshore energy exploration while United Nations-backed talks on reunifying the island continue.

Earlier this week, Noble Energy said it has identified 12 more prospects with more than 20 tcf of gross unrisked resource potential in the eastern Mediterranean that target sands equivalent to those it discovered at Tamar off Israel (OGJ Online, Nov. 15, 2011).

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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