UPDATE 1-Turkey finds wider evidence of shale gas - minister
* Exploration so far focused on southeast, west
* Seismic data suggests reserves in three central provinces
* Shell findings will be closely watched
By Orhan Coskun
ANKARA, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Turkish seismic surveys have uncovered evidence of shale gas in three central provinces outside the southeastern and western Thrace regions where exploration has so far been concentrating, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Wednesday.
Shale development is progressing slowly in Europe, where Poland and Britain also have plans, yet it has already transformed the U.S. energy market, halving U.S. gas prices in the last five years.
Yildiz told Turkey's maiden shale gas conference, attended by more than a dozen energy firms, that surveys had suggested there were shale gas deposits in the provinces of Konya, Ankara and Kirsehir.
"Turkey wants to discover its potential in east and southeast Anatolia as well as in Thrace (in the west). We have also come across some positive findings in central Anatolia," Yildiz told the conference.
Turkey is hoping to find shale reserves big enough to help reduce its dependency on energy imports. Continued...