Could the SPIEF boost the TurkStream flows?

Putin and Erdogan open TurkStream gas pipeline

The Saint Petersburg Economic Forum to be held in Russia on June 2-5 is the first post pandemic global event that is focused to gather international delegations from the U.S., Germany, Italy, China, South Asia and the Middle East.

With the Forum’s main focus on energy and sustainable development, Russia aims to boost international trade ties and attract investments to its economy. And Turkey could be among most prospective partners for Russia following the SPIEF ambitions. Today Ankara’s major interest is to provide permanent gas flows through the Turkish Stream. On the other side, Turkey, a NATO’s member, has been manipulated by the United States for years following Washington’ efforts to sign a deal with Ankara on U.S. natural compress gas (GNC).

However, the recent tensions between Biden and Erdogan on Ankara’s recognition of the atrocities committed against the Armenian people in 1915 as genocide as well as the recent criticism of Erdogan towards the U.S. on the Gaza-Israeli conflict have been a sore spot between the countries placing their further economic and political cooperation in question.

This explains why Turkey has been seeking a closer cooperation with Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to support the Turkish Stream supplies. The pipeline, which transits the Black Sea, took five years to complete and is one of two major new natural-gas export routes totaling nearly $20 billion. Russia on its parts also expects to go on line this year and the SPIEF is likely to become a platform for developing further economic cooperation and trade ties between Turkey and Russia.

Uzbekistan’s energy pathways: at a crossroads between East and West

The new Russia-Uzbekistan nuclear plant agreement on cooperation in the construction of generation nuclear power plant (NPP) VVER-1200 reactor of 3+ generation in Uzbekistan seems to pose far more opportunities than it might seem. With the Tashkent’s critical need of non-costly energy resources, the project aims not only to foster Uzbekistan’s self-sufficiency and persistence in the energy sector, but also to launch national production and export of its own energy resources. Despite the plant is claimed to be of the ex-soviet prototype, the new industry will be equipped with state-of-the-art technologies and facilities by State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM, a global technological leader.

However, while Russia is likely to become a major energy partner for Uzbekistan, Tashkent will also continue developing energy construction projects along with the US and China. Earlier this year Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Miromonovich Mirziyoyev visited the White House where President J. Trump proposed a plan for strategic partnership with Uzbekistan in various spheres. But while Uzbekistan-US cooperation in social, economic and educational development does not require industrial waste management and recycling, the cooperation in the nuclear and energy sector with the use of nuclear elements of the US origin and a lack of US recycling technologies may pose an ecological threat for the country.

China, for its part, willing to contribute to the modernization of the Uzbekistan’s energy sector bears more global motives rather than selling technologies to its geographical neighbors. Should Beijing become a nuclear partner of Tashkent it will obviously take over the control of the Uzbekistan’s energy infrastructure.

Certainly, the agreement between Uzbekistan and Russia is not going to meet the country’s entire demand for energy resources. However, with the current US-China trade confrontation and blur industrial management prospects both from Beijing and Washington, collaboration with Moscow seems to be a win-win opportunity for Uzbekistan at the moment.

Turkey should look to an ancient king for tips on energy

The giant stone heads scattered around Mount Nemrut in south-eastern Turkey combine several cultures. Raised in 62 BC, these statues of Greek, Armenian and Iranian gods have Hellenic faces but wear Persian hats, testament to their builder, King Antiochus.

A worker checks the valve gears in a natural gas control centre of Turkey's Petroleum and Pipeline Corporation

A worker checks the valve gears at a natural gas storage facility in Kinali. Turkey is heavily dependent on imports of oil and natural gas. Osman Orsal / Reuters

Today, as the sun sets behind the Atatürk dam to the south, their blind eyes look out over a key pipeline – part of Turkey’s energy policy, which also must balance East and West.

Turkey receives less energy attention than it should. The European Union tends to consider it primarily as a transit country for oil and gas from the Caspian and Middle East.

But Turkey is the fourth-largest gas market in Europe (outside the former Soviet Union), and the only one that is growing strongly – more than 11 per cent a year over the past decade. By 2020, it could well be the continent’s largest gas consumer.

With Europe mired in recession, Turkey grew 8.5 per cent in 2011, even if a slowdown last year raised concerns. Inflation has been mostly brought under control, its young population is the second-largest in Europe (just behind Germany) and public debt is modest.

With little domestic petroleum, the country relies heavily on gas imports. Expensive energy purchases comprise two thirds of a worryingly high current account deficit. More than half of Turkey’s gas comes from Russia, known to use energy as a geopolitical tool; a further 18 per cent from Iran, often cut off in winter. Iranian supplies are coming under pressure from United States-inspired sanctions and restrictions.

Ankara-Tehran relations have suffered further over the conflict in Syria. Increased use of coal, nuclear and renewable energy can slow, but not reverse the growth in gas requirements.

In principle, Turkey’s geography presents it with ideal solutions. The EU long sought to encourage it to become the “fourth corridor” of gas imports (the other three running from Russia, North Africa and Norway), via the Nabucco Pipeline. But Turkey’s own energy needs are more important for its policy than any desire to assist the EU – especially after being cold-shouldered for membership.

To the east, Turkish policymakers look out over the gas-rich Caspian – Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan – speaking languages closely related to Turkish. To the south-east, Iraq and its Kurdish region, Ottoman provinces less than a century ago. To the south-west, massive new gas finds in the deep waters of the eastern Mediterranean.

But all of these regions are politically problematic. The Caspian is the most straightforward – Turkey already buys Azeri gas. The new Trans-Anatolian pipeline will expand imports, and run westwards to connect to EU markets – either Italy or, via a scaled-down version of Nabucco, into central Europe.

But eccentric, isolationist Turkmenistan has not reached agreement with Azerbaijan on laying a pipeline under the Caspian Sea, where the two countries dispute a border – nor is there much reason for the Azeris to facilitate a rival.

Baghdad seems in no hurry to expedite its own gas exports, and relations with Ankara are poor – over Syria, where the two capitals back opposite sides, and over Turkish support for oil exports from the Kurdish region of Iraq. But it would be a dramatic move for the Turks to permit an independent gas pipeline from the Kurdish region- condoning effective Kurdish independence and breaking relations with Baghdad.

And in the Mediterranean, Turkish relations with Israel are cold, Syria is in chaos, and the continuing dispute over the divided island of Cyprus blocks pipeline routes.

Ankara’s policy of “zero problems with neighbours” has rapidly transformed into “many problems”.

To meet its needs, Turkey needs to emulate King Antiochus and rebuild constructive relations with at least some of its energy-rich neighbours.

Robin Mills is the head of consulting at Manaar Energy, and the author of The Myth of the Oil Crisis and Capturing Carbon

via Turkey should look to an ancient king for tips on energy – The National.

Turkey’s big thirst for new power

Turkey’s big thirst for new power

Florian Neuhof


Turkey is in a rush to grow its energy sector. And recent news that the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, known as Taqa, will invest heavily in Turkish coal-fired power plants shows how serious Ankara is taking this commitment.

The deal, announced at the start of the year, will see Taqa build and operate a power generation base totalling 7,000 megawatts, or about 10 per cent of Turkey’s electricity needs by the time the plants are completed.

Turkey’s energy minister, Taner Yildiz, is keen to emphasise that efforts will be taken to minimise the environmental impact of the country’s power sector.

The plants will be fed with lignite, a soft brown coal reviled by environmentalists for the emissions its use entails. Lignite is found in Turkey’s soil and offers some relief in the complicated task of securing hydrocarbons from abroad.

Turkey is dependent on imports for 91 per cent of its oil and 98 per cent of its natural gas and it relies heavily on Iran and Russia for its supplies. It is therefore keen to push the share of electricity produced from gas from about 50 per cent to less than 30 per cent in the next decade and to diversify its hydrocarbon sources.

Turkey has reluctantly complied with United States and European Union demands to reduce imports from Iran as part of a new round of sanctions, but its dependence on Iranian supply has meant it has refused to cut economic ties with the country.

Nevertheless, Turkey has announced it will import more Saudi Arabian and Libyan crude to counter the effect of the sanctions on Iran and the trend for Arabian Gulf oil to depart to Asia.

Turkey’s confrontational stance with Syria, Tehran’s long-time ally, could also endanger imports from Iran.

Iraq’s immense oil and gas reserves are another source of hydrocarbons, and a pipeline already flushes 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Iraqi crude across the border to the Turkish harbour of Ceyhan. But, rather than focusing on good relations with Baghdad, Ankara seems intent on carving out its own oil and gas base in Iraq by encouraging the autonomous Kurdish north in its efforts to create an independent energy sector.

The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and Turkey are close to signing a deal under which the Turks will build production and pipeline capacity in Kurdistan, enabling the Kurds to export their hydrocarbons outside the Iraqi infrastructure.

The KRG’s efforts to take control of its resources is a huge source of irritation to Iraq’s central government. While closer ties with Erbil can serve to secure a great deal of oil and gas supply, the uncertainty of the geopolitics can also undermine future security of supply.

Turkey pays attention to its gas supply in particular. With electricity use projected to rise dramatically in the coming decades, adding further gas imports is crucial in spite of efforts to reduce its share in power generation.

But Turkey also has ambitions to establish itself as a gas-trading hub between the Middle East, gas rich Azerbaijan and Europe. Turkey and Azerbaijan have agreed on the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline project that will connect the latter’s Shah Deniz II gasfield development with the Bosphorus.

Turkish demand for gas stood at about 125,000 cubic metres a day at the end of last year. Before it can think of gaining in status as a transit hub it needs to ensure its own demands are met, experts say.

“It still needs to facilitate additional gas purchases and encourage new developments such as Shah Deniz Phase II and Kurdistan volumes to meet its own requirements,” says Stephen O’Rourke, a gas supply analyst at Wood Mackenzie.

Although piped gas plays the biggest part in Turkey’s thinking, Ankara has remained open to all options. This month, Mr Yildiz announced that he was in discussions with Qatar over an import terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Another future source of gas could be the Levant Basin, where huge reserves are believed to lie under the deep seabed. But Turkey’s confrontational stance towards Greece and its icy relations with Israel disadvantages Ankara’s position in the Mediterranean, in spite of an exploration agreement with North Cyprus.

If the Levant Basin fulfils its potential and starts yielding large amounts of gas, it could threaten Turkey’s position as a transit hub, analysts predict, as the most direct route to Europe is via Greece. But gas produced there may not be destined to Europe, anyhow.

“We expect LNG to be the most likely export monetisation solution for these discoveries, and consequently Europe is not a guaranteed market for this gas,” says Mr O’Rourke.

Overall, Turkey remains in a strong position to secure the gas necessary for its economic growth and to make it a significant regional hub.

“Turkey should be able to maintain its long-term energy objectives. However, this will become more complicated, given its increasingly complicated relationships with Syria, Iran, Cyprus, and Israel,” says Daniel Wagner, the chief executive of the consultancy Control Risk Solutions.

via Turkey’s big thirst for new power – The National.

Turkey-Israel Tensions Set Back Turkish Energy Interests

Tulin Daloglu for Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse. posted on January 10.

General view of Ambarli gas-fired power station in Istanbul J

A general view of Ambarli gas-fired power station, idled in a supply dispute with Ukraine, in Istanbul, Jan. 8, 2009. (photo by REUTERS/Osman Orsal)

Surrounded by 70% of the world’s oil and natural gas reserves, Turkey is almost completely dependent on imports to meet its needs for hydrocarbon energy. Despite this hard reality, Turkey’s Minister of Energy Taner Yildiz said, “We aim to have a Turkey in 2023 that won’t import oil or natural gas,” and, “We will also continue our work turning Turkey into an energy hub.”

As Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse has reported here, and here, the discovery of hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean basin not only caught the Turkish leadership unprepared, it also revealed the shortsightedness of their approach of designating Israel as an enemy. When Turkey and Israel engaged in dialogue on building an “infrastructure corridor” linking port cities of these two countries, which would have included five separate underwater pipelines for oil, natural gas, electricity, water and communications, they were also seeking to cement a strategic partnership. While anyone who can repair the personal and political rupture between Prime Minister Erdogan and the Israeli leadership will deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, the fact is that the loss of Turkey as a partner isn’t really all that damaging for Israel.

“When we were talking about the infrastructure corridor, it was 2005 and later 2007,” Binyamin Fuad Ben Eli Ezer, former Israeli minister of infrastructure told Al-Monitor. “I tried to find a way to buy gas from Gazprom, Russia, as quick as possible. Today, we don’t need that. The new discoveries in Leviathan and Tamar will be good for us for at least 300 years.”

Leviathan and Tamar are newly discovered huge gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel.  Israel certainly has the full sovereignty to explore and exploit these fields. The issue that brings Turkey into the equation is more about the way the natural gas will be brought to surface and carried to international markets for consumption. Ben Eli Ezer, who was the founding father of the idea of the “infrastructure corridor,” also sheds some light on this dilemma.

“Erdogan blessed it. I went with all the maps and the work we’ve done and we found that it is more than possible to do it by these underwater pipelines. It’s an economic one, good one, too,” Ben Eli Ezer said. “If you ask me something happened with Calik. He came to Israel eight or nine times. Both [Ehud] Olmert and [Ariel] Sharon were more than happy about this project from the beginning.”

A giant company with diversified interests from energy to media, Çalik Holding was tasked with preparing a feasibility report by the Erdogan government. Chief Executive Officer Ahmet Çalik is also known as a close friend of Erdogan. “Çalik kept it at ‘wait and see.’ Then the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident happened, and everything blew up,” Ben Eli Ezer said. That still leaves room to speculate as to whether this “infrastructure corridor” between Turkey and Israel that was going to build pipelines under the deep waters of the Mediterranean was really doable. It’s not really the distance that matters, but the engineering that this project requires is certainly a challenging one.

Ben Eli Ezer, however, thinks that if people put their minds to it, the project is still possible and that he would prefer to do it with Turkey and normalize relations with the Ankara government.

“I want to make a statement,” Ben Eli Ezer told Al-Monitor. “The government of Israel, the prime minister of Israel — as far as I know, he’s more than interested to bring back normalization of the relation with Turkey. He’s keen to find the formula that will satisfy both sides.” He then went on to say this: “You see, there is two almost super nations that we have to consider in the Middle East — Turkey and Egypt. We have border with Egypt, which makes it more important for us. But we also don’t need Turkey on the other side.”

Yet the Erdogan-Davutoglu policy is crystal clear on using Israel as a whipping boy at every opportunity. So far, this approach has won them the masses on the Arab street. Erdogan continues to claim that the Israeli-Palestinian issue is the mother of all problems in the region, as if the reason people in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria put their lives on the line to bring down dictators had anything to do with Israel’s unresolved dispute with the Palestinians. Israeli officials have expressed privately many times that under these circumstances, it’s not possible to trust Turkey anymore. “It takes years to build trust, and takes only minutes to dissolve it,” one senior Israeli official told  Although Ben Eli Ezer expressed a desire, despite all these challenges, to rejuvenate the “infrastructure project,” he also said, “But I don’t see how.”

In short, a Turkey in fights with all the countries in the region rich with oil and natural gas reserves only harms its own long-term interests — and undermines the goals that Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yildiz has set: “We aim to have a Turkey in 2023 that won’t import oil or natural gas,” and “We also continue our work turning Turkey into an energy hub.”

Tulin Daloglu is a columnist for Al-Monitor and a foreign-policy analyst based in Ankara, Turkey. She tweets @TulinDaloglu.

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