28 March 2023 - 16:40
  • News ID: 470603
Turkey gas hub ambitions

In 2008, Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs unveiled the country's national energy strategy, and for the first time in that document, it talked about Turkey is becoming the center and hub of energy transit from Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Middle East, the Balkans, and Russia to Europe. Turkey's foreign policy has since tried more and more towards the realization of this goal and made a lot of efforts in the form of long-term economic and political plans to transform Ceyhan Port into an energy terminal in the region. In this regard, Turkey has always been one of the parties present in discussions related to energy transmission lines to Europe.

However, Ankara did not make significant achievements in this regard until the outbreak of the Ukrainian war. Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine and subsequently the discussion of the Nord Stream pipeline embargo by Germany and other European countries, Turkey once again highlighted its position as an energy hub.

Turkey status

Although Turkey has made big energy exploration in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea in recent years, this country is mainly known as a consumer of oil and gas. For this reason, in the past years, several routes have been established in this country to transport oil and gas. Currently, there are many gas transmission lines in Turkey already operational or having been designed, the most important of which are:

1. Tabriz-Ankara Pipeline which has been in operation since 2001 and has capacity to transfer 7.5 bcm/y of gas. Gas transmission through this pipeline has faced problems in recent years. In addition to technical problems and several explosions along the pipeline route, the debate over the price of gas exported from Iran to Turkey has always been a challenge.

2. TurkStream which has been in operation since 2005 and has an annual capacity of 16 bcm of gas. Currently, the bulk of Russia's gas exports to Turkey is transferred through this pipeline.

3. Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum which was built in 2006 and has a maximum transfer capacity of 8 bcm/y. Over the past years, gas transmission from this pipeline has been stopped many times due to the decrease in gas production of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the Shah Deniz field.

4. Turkey-Greece Natural Gas Pipeline which has been built since 2006 with a capacity of 11.5 bcm/y. Turkey received 10 to 14 mcm/d of gas from the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline, of which 250,000 cubic meters was exported to Greece.

5. Arab Gas Pipeline which was supposed to be ready for use in 2011, but has not yet been completed. The launch of this project has remained in an aura of uncertainty due to the unrest in the Middle East and the changes known as the Arab Spring.

6. Nabucco Pipeline, which has the capacity to transfer 31 bcm of gas. This pipeline can transfer a significant amount of gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe through Turkey.

7. Turkey-[Zionist Regime] Pipeline which has been stalled in the negotiation stage due to the strained relations between Ankara and Tel Aviv in the past years.

8. Iraq-Turkey Pipeline whose negotiations have not yet reached a conclusion. As the above-mentioned pipeline must pass through Kurdish areas, therefore, an agreement on it is impractical, at least in the near future.

9. Assaluyeh-Bazargan Pipeline which has been negotiated, but due to the increase of sanctions and international pressure on Iran, it is impossible to agree and implement it at least in the near future.

Opportunities and challenges

The war in Ukraine changed the conditions governing energy markets in the world, and in the meantime, most European countries faced severe challenges. The Europeans, who wanted to import more gas from Russia by launching the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, not only failed to achieve this goal due to the Ukraine war, but also had to embargo their other energy imports from Russia.

Although these actions of European countries are logically understandable, they have created serious voids in the field of energy supply. For this reason, European countries have once again thought about alternative sources and routes for their energy supply. In the meantime, as both Russian sources and transmission lines from Russia have been sanctioned, Europe is forced to think about other sources and routes.

Under such circumstances, Turkey's geographical position has been highlighted once again as a country that can be the hub and center of energy transfer to Europe. This has been strongly welcomed by Turkish authorities and they have also publicly announced that they want to transfer gas from Russia, Iran, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East to Europe through their territory. Turkey is happy with the current situation for several reasons:

First, the transfer of gas from Russia, Iran, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East to Europe is in line with Turkey's goals in order to become the energy hub of the region.

Second, the transfer of gas from Russia, Iran, Caucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East to Europe can be considered an effective role in Ankara's cooperation with the European Union and clear the way for its integration into the Union.

Third, with the transfer of gas from Russia, Iran, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East to Europe, this country gets a lot of revenue through the right of transit and the passage of pipelines through Turkish soil.

Fourth, by becoming the energy hub of the region, Turkey is actually diversifying its imported sources and energy transmission lines. In fact, buying gas from various suppliers reduces the country's vulnerability in accessing energy sources.

Despite the benefits of Turkey becoming an energy hub for Ankara, this process also faces severe challenges:

First, if Europe is to buy Russian gas through Turkey, it will have to pay a higher price for it, which is not very economical. At the same time, this issue also contradicts European sanctions and makes the economic pressure against it ineffective.

Second, transfer of gas from Iran to Turkey is largely impossible due to Western sanctions against Tehran. Because Iran's energy infrastructures require financial and technical investment, which is not possible without lifting Western sanctions.

Third, the Europeans have entered into severe political challenges with Turkey in recent years and have not forgotten Turkey's blackmail in issues such as preventing Syrian refugees from entering Europe. Just as Turkey has set conditions for countries such as Sweden to join NATO, which is considered blackmail by Europe.

Fourth, the Middle East region has been involved in a situation of increasing instability and insecurity in the past years. The two countries of Syria and Iraq, which can be the route of transiting the energy of other Arab countries to Turkey, have significant problems both inside and outside.

Fifth, contrary to initial estimates, Azerbaijan's gas is not so much to be a reliable and sustainable source for Europe. At the same time, gas transmission from Central Asian countries such as Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan is also facing major challenges due to the difficulties and obstacles of constructing a pipeline from the Caspian Sea bed.

In general, despite the fact that turning Turkey into the energy hub of the region is an old plan and Ankara has always sought to implement it, there are many challenges in this regard. Of course, some of these challenges have become different compared to the past due to the Ukraine war and the change in the conditions of transmission and supply of energy in Europe. However, Turkey still has a long way to go to become an energy hub. Of course, this does not mean that Ankara will give up on this ambitious plan.

By Shuaib Bahman

Iran Petroleum

News ID 470603


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