The US should welcome any discovery that can decrease Turkey's reliance on Russian energy, with the added bonus of a boost in trade with the US.
Energy consumption is the main driving force of the development of any country. Those responsible for managing the nation's energy needs are obliged to provide energy in a continuous, low-cost, efficient and environmentally-friendly manner.
Efficient governance requires diversification of energy sources and security for its uninterrupted supply. We are well aware that a great deal of work has been done in Turkey to reduce its dependence on foreign energy in the last five years.
A total of 5 fully-equipped research vessels were on duty in both the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The journey that began with Fatih, Turkey's first drillship, goes on with Yavuz, Kanuni, Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, and Oruc Reis. As some regional actors were displeased with Turkey’s success in the Eastern Mediterranean, President Erdogan took to the stage with good news.
His statement announcing the discovery of 320 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves in the Black Sea and his emphasis on the other exploration continuing in the Eastern Mediterranean has attracted the attention of many countries, including Greece.
Turkey imports more than 65 percent of the energy it consumes from overseas. Hence, we spend an average share of $50 billion from the budget solely on energy imports. It responsible for a significant part of the current deficit in Turkey's accounts. As an example, Israel found a gas field, Leviathan, in the Eastern Mediterranean in 2010. Israel has foregone importing for exporting and currently sells gas to Jordan.
How was the news received in the US?
There have been no remarks made by either the White House, or the Department of State. Frankly, I don't think there will be any comments on this issue, since the US is now focused on the presidential elections and fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
It's likely that during the next Trump-Erdogan phone conversation, this issue will be brought up by Erdogan as there is a treaty increase the trade volume between the countries to $100 billion. I believe that the energy sector will make a great contribution to this goal.
We already know that Turkish-US companies have been working in cooperation, especially on LNG. In addition, it is worth remembering that the US Chamber of Commerce is working hard to increase the trade cooperation of the two countries in the field of energy.
Some experts at respected think tanks in the US have also commented on the Black Sea find.
Michael Doran, former White House NSC Official, and an expert at the Hudson Institute stated, "Turkey is emerging." He added that the US must find a new modus vivendi with regards to Turkey, and that it was the top priority of US foreign policy in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Meanwhile, an expert in the Atlantic Council, retired US Ambassador Matthew Bryza, claimed that it was a significant discovery, offering new options to Turkey and making it less dependent on Russia.
Apart from that, certain American media outlets shared the natural gas news on both their news agencies and their own sources.
The Wall Street Journal announced the news about Turkey's natural gas discovery with the headline "Turkey Looks to Vast Gas Discovery to Bolster Ailing Economy". The article mentioned that this discovery could decrease Turkey’s balance deficit as well as highlighted the thoughts of American gas experts on how the claim that the gas could be utilised and introduced into the market in the next three years was a bold statement.
While some other prominent media outlets, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post announced the news of the discovery, it also stated that some experts said that while the discovery was positive news for Turkey, it was not a “game changer.”
Another point from the US press that raised attention is that the news of the discovery of natural gas reserves in the Black Sea comes at a time when tensions over the Eastern Mediterranean are rising.
Until the American elections on November 3, or even until the new presidential term, the US will probably take no plan of action concerning the Eastern Mediterranean or the Black Sea.
We only see Secretary Pompeo’s statements to “bring the tension down,” regarding the Eastern Mediterranean. However, I believe the US will be pleased with Turkey’s discovery of natural gas as it means they will be less dependant on Russia for energy.
A strong Turkey with energy resources at its disposal can make a more robust contribution to NATO and to the peace and economic stability of the region.
I hope, in the near future, we can receive the great news we have received from the Black Sea from the Eastern Mediterranean, as well.
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