Fatih, Yavuz and Kanuni at the global race of drilling

Turkey enjoyed the pride of discovering natural gas with its indigenous FATIH drillship. The seismic researches and drilling operations carried out with indigenous vessels were once conducted with rented ships. Turkey’s first drilling activity dates back to 1976 and named as HORA the ship was granted to Turkey by Germany.

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Publication date: 24 Mart 2021 Çarşamba
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Turkey’s drilling activities in the seas started 47 years ago with a research ship leased from Norway. The naval drills in the Blue Homeland, Turkey launched in 1974 in the Aegean Sea with a hired Norwegian ship with a Turkish flag, continued with HORA granted by Germany and drills are presently executed in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean by our inventory’s indigenous actors. The story of HORA - the first ship of the inventory - lies beneath the fleet that is Turkey’s source of pride. Here goes the story of Turkey’s seismic and drillships that started with rented ships and recently discovered natural gas through local resources:


Turkey set to launch naval drills after the Cyprus Peace Operation of 1974. Since there were no drillships in the inventory, one had to be rented from Norway.
This Turkey-flagged Norwegian vessel had to stop its journey in the Aegean Sea as Norway’s government decided to recall the ship though the payment was received. Therefore, Turkey, without a vessel for drilling activities, set the sails to find a new boat. Granted by Germany to Turkey after World War I, HORA in Turkey’s inventory had been the solution to the problem. Seismic exploration devices were installed to HORA which was designed to carry out search and rescue operations and thus, HORA’s adventure at the Aegean Sea began. In the later years, registered in the General Directorate of Mineral Research And Exploration’s (MTA) inventory HORA’s name was changed to MTA-1 SISMIK 1. For 28 years, in other words, from 1976 to 2004, HORA kept the Turkish flag flying at the Aegean Sea.


The second seismic exploration ship in the inventory was the MTA-SELEN. Included in the inventory in 2011, this ship is still in service for subsea geophysical exploration in shallow waters from the shoreline until the deep waters in the seas surrounding Turkey. The vessel conducted seismic exploration activities in the Aegean Sea last year.


ORUC REIS has been the first vessel to elate Turkey within its inventory of seismic and drillships. The procurement project of ORUC REIS was carried out by MTA and the Presidency of Defence Industries. This ship’s construction started in 2012. Completing her construction based entirely on local resources, ORUC REIS began to perform its tasks in 2019. Standing out with its unique features that are rarely seen among the seismic exploration vessels in the world, in addition to 3D sampling at the seabed in the high-seas, ORUC REIS is capable of exploring natural resources in the seas such as oil, natural gas and coal. ORUC REIS is presently active in the Eastern Mediterranean.


Another ship in the inventory is BARBAROS HAYREDDIN PASA, which was procured in 2012 and started to be operated by the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO). This seismographic research vessel was built in Dubai and was procured for US$130 million by the end of 2012. Capable of operating over glacial surfaces, the vessel also stands out with its environmentally-friendly features. The ship currently carries out oil and natural gas exploration activities in the waters around Famagusta and Lebanon.


The most famous champion of the inventory that filled Turkey with joy is the FATIH drillship. Turkey’s first national drillship, FATIH, was included in the body of TPAO in 2017. The master of the seas started to operate its first deep-water drilling in Alanya-1 field on 29 October 2018, then moved onto its first national deep-water drilling off Zonguldak and has been conducting drilling there since 20 July. Nearly a month later, she actually became the FATIH (the conqueror) of the seas when it discovered a natural gas reserve of 320 billion cubic meters.


YAVUZ drillship is another member of the TPAO’s family of drillships. Purchased for US$262.5 billion in 2018 by the TPAO, YAVUZ was launched on 20 June 2019. With twin-gun turrets, the vessel was formerly active in various countries, Tanzania, Kenya, Malaysia and the Philippines being in the first place. One of the 16 ships in the world with such features, YAVUZ, can drill high-pressure conditions and even in the 6-meter’ high waves. The vessel is presently conducting oil exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.


The most recent vessel of the Blue Homeland heroes is the KANUNI drillship. The construction of the ship was completed in 2012 in South Korea. TPAO procured the vessel in 2020 for US$37.5 million. KANUNI weighs 60 thousand 316 gross tons and the drillship’s length is 227 meters, her height is 114 meters and her width is 42 meters. The tower assembly, cruising test, installation of the drilling equipment and the well security system’s maintenance will be completed at the Filyos Port. The sixth-generation ultra deep-water drillship can carry out drilling wells up to 11 thousand 400 meter at a sea depth up to 3 thousand meters. KANUNI will start performing its first drilling activities in the first months of 2021 with FATIH.