Turkey recently launched its first national research ship. Its purpose is to help protect marine ecosystems and enable surveillance and research on a number of undersea related issues. One of these is exploring for oil.
The project is significant because it proves Turkey is capable of building such ships, and the Science Industry and Technology Minister Nihat Ergun is hopeful these ships could be exported one-day. The aim is for the ship to make it easier for Turkey to benefit from resources found in the seas, and this will hopefully create a surplus for the country.
Turkey is becoming increasingly aware of the need to focus more resources on research and development, even though this won’t necessarily bring political benefits. A decade ago only 114 million Turkish liras were dedicated to investment but this year investment increased to 1.9 billion liras. It's expected the research ship will be fully equipped by the end of May.
Its building was part of an extension of the program to help boost marine research within Turkey. The program began with the establishment of a Sea Research Centre that shares information with other international research centres.
Turkey is anxious to exploit its domestic fossil fuel reserves as a way of becoming more energy independent. So far Turkey has signed deals with three international oil firms who are trying to find extractable reserves in the Black Sea.
This type of exploration has been ongoing for years, but there is still no clear picture as to how much oil is actually able to be extracted. The state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corporation recently signed a deal with Shell which is worth an estimated $200 million and is due to last for three years. It will be interesting to learn how Turkey's new research ship is able to contribute to this search.