Aytuna Consulting

International Petroleum Consulting

About Turkey : A Brief History of Exploration Operations


In the country, more than 3,000 wells have been drilled since 1935, on onshore areas; 77% have been in the southeast Turkey, 15% in the Thrace Basin (European side of Turkey) 7% in other parts of the country and 1 % of these were offshore areas. In the offshore areas, a total of 35 exploration (by 10/2005)wells have been drilled; 13 in the Black Sea, 11 in the Marmara Sea, 3 in the Aegean Sea and 13 in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. As a result of all these activities 103 oil and 28 gas fields (24 in the Thrace), in different sizes have been discovered.

TPAO has been exploring in the country since 1955 and has made many discoveries. Major oil fields are located in SE Turkey ( Anatolia) on the northern extension of the Arabian Plate and the gas fields are located in the Thrace Basin. Also Adana and Tuz Gölü Basins are the 3rd important areas as far as the exploration and drilling activities are concerned. Currently, the Black Sea offshore basin is a hot spot and is getting more and more attractions where TPAO farms out, especially after the TPAO-ARCO joint venture had drilled two exploration wells (Limanköy-1 and Limanköy-2), at the Western Black Sea (District-I), near Bulgarian border in 1999. One well resulted with gas shows and the other was dry, 50km offshore at 850 meters of water.

TPAO has a joint venture agreement for the deep offshore Black Sea license with BP in the most eastern part, next to the Georgian offshore border and has drilled one exploration well in 2005. Currently, TPAO conducts serious negotiations for the western and central Black Sea offshore blocks with Petrobras (Brazilian National Oil Company) and the other major International companies. The western block, is located in District-I, at an average depth of 1,200 meters, while the central block is in District-III and its average depth is 2,000 meters.

Also, TPAO has a joint venture for the shallower parts of the Black Sea near Akcakoca offshore in District-II with Toreador where some gas has been tested. In 2001, TPAO-El Paso joint venture had drilled 3 exploration offshore wells in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea (near Ceyhan) back to back and one well had some gas shows and the others were dry at water depths of 100-250m.

I (Dr. Sezgin Aytuna) was heavily involved in all the exploration activates with ARCO and El Paso joint ventures as an exploration manager / exploration coordinator and geoscience manager from 1985 to 2003. I have maintained excellent rapport with TPAO and The General Directorate of Petroleum Affairs (GDPA) since 1985.

The onshore TPAO’s activities have been more aggressive than offshore where TPAO has had several joint ventures with the major International oil companies such as; Esso, Amoco, Shell, Huffco, ARCO, and Chevron between 1983-2005. TPAO-ARCO joint venture discovered three oil fields in SE Turkey (Anatolia) in Adiyaman (District XII) and Diyarbakir (District XI) in 1990-1991. The joint venture has lasted 16 years till the BP-ARCO merger in 2000. Time wise, it is the longest joint venture that TPAO has undertaken with a foreign oil company. The discovered fields are called; Cendere, Ozan Sungurlu and Migo Fields and they are still producing oil. TPAO-ARCO joint venture alone had drilled 40 onshore wells (6 explorations, 6 appraisals and 28 developments wells) where TPAO was the operator. I was heavily involved in all the TPAO-ARCO joint venture well drilling operations as an exploration coordinator/ drilling negotiators and operation geologist and coordinated the technical work between ARCO-TPAO and GDPA and other agencies and governmental bodies.