Turkey will begin seismic exploration of oil and natural gas resources in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea this year, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak said.
"We will take steps this year towards exploring and drilling in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea," the minister told Anadolu Agency at the IHS CERAWeek 2017 energy conference in Houston.
"After our first seismic exploration vessel Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, our second vessel will actively conduct 2-D and 3-D seismic exploration in both of our seas," he added.
Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa explored oil and natural gas resources two years ago off the coast of the Cyprus Island, but its activities were interrupted in March 2015 when tensions rose between the Greek Cypriot administration and the Turkish Cypriot government over ownership of the resources.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has since stated that the resources of the island belong to both communities.
Albayrak emphasized that more than 60 percent of the world's oil and natural gas resources are in the region of Turkey, and that the country is entering a new era to realize new investments by taking significant steps in the energy sector.
"With the responsibility of being the most stable and strongest country in the region; Turkey, which is surrounded by rich energy resources, will continue to work decisively and intensively in the forthcoming period," he said.
Albayrak underlined that Turkey has made significant investments in recent years on natural gas storage and in the diversification of energy sources, and noted that the Turkish Energy Ministry has recently accelerated oil and gas exploration.
- Foreign investors keen on investments in Turkey
The minister noted he held fruitful talks during the CERAWeek conference with various parties, and added that investors have much interest in Turkey.
"I have seen that foreign investors have a lot of desire for Turkey. This is very promising to reach our goal of 'Great Turkey' in the future," he added.
Albayrak highlighted the importance of CERAWeek in providing opportunities for attendees - global energy companies, countries and ministers to participate, discuss and formulate policies and trade every year.
"We have conducted many critical talks. In our meetings, we had much dialogue with foreign and local actors [in energy], and assessed critical topics about energy policies in our region," the minister said.
"We exchanged important opinions about Turkey's position in the region, and held various talks about materializing different investments in Turkey's energy sector," he concluded.
By Ovunc Kutlu in Houston, Texas