Experts emphasize risks of oil exploration in Marmara Sea as company obtains license

The Environmental Engineers Chamber in Istanbul has warned against the risks of oil exploration in the Marmara Sea after the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry granted the Turkish Petroleum Corporation an eight-year license to search for petroleum in the inland sea. 

Duvar English

The Istanbul branch of the Environmental Engineers Chamber on March 23 warned against the environmental risks of oil exploration in the Marmara Sea following the permit acquired by the Turkish Petroleum Corporation to search for petroleum in the inland sea.  

The Energy and Natural Ministry on March 22 published it has granted a permit to the Turkish Petroleum Corporation to explore 95 thousand hectares of sea-land for petroleum.  

The Chamber issued a statement discouraging oil exploration at the already de-oxygenated sea, according to reporting by the daily BirGün. 

The statement noted the 2021 Presidential decree that declared the Marmara Sea a special environmental protection zone, due to its rich flora and fauna and its special role as a biological corridor between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

The protection decree sought to preserve the sea’s ecosystem after it had suffered from mucilage (“sea snot”) and blooming plankton populations. 

The chamber of engineers stated that the average temperature of the sea was three degrees above normal, and therefore the sea was at the risk of further pollution. 

“Oil exploration and drilling activities will gravely harm the sea ecosystem that has already been suffering from a plankton boom and mucilage,” warned the chamber. 

They continued, “A potential oil leak will be the end of life in the inland Marmara Sea.” 

Biodiversity has decreased significantly in the sea since the “sea snot” issue began in late 2020. The issue first became noticeable with mass fish deaths in Western Marmara in early 2021, which then moved eastwards towards Istanbul. 

However, experts noted that pollution in the Marmara Sea has been an ongoing problem since the early 1990s, leading to multiple species' disappearance.