Turkey's largest natural gas provider, Russia, has warned state-owned Turkish Pipeline Company (BOTAŞ) to refrain from demanding more gas than the amount specified in a supply contract between the two countries, according to Energy Ministry officials, leaving Turkey with the threat of yet another natural gas crisis looming on the horizon.
Turkey has been relying on Russia for natural gas, especially in the winter months, when Iran has failed in the past to provide the amount required.
Leaving questions about the issue unanswered, BOTAŞ officials hinted that Turkey was likely to face what could turn out a serious energy crisis this winter. Some officials from the energy sector attribute this Russian attitude to the Energy Ministry's increasing friendliness with its Persian counterpart.
Natural gas rapidly became widespread in Turkey after importations began in 1987, and today nearly the whole country uses it. Along with the industrial sector, more than 6 million residences consume natural gas for heating. Fifty percent of Turkey's electricity production is also managed with natural gas. Nearly 70 percent of last year's consumption was imported from Russia, while the rest came from Iran, Nigeria and the spot market.
When Turkey encountered a gas crisis after Iran failed to provide the stipulated amount last winter, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin and requested that the Russian amount be increased, to which Putin responded positively. After the call Russia increased the amount of natural gas provided through the Blue Stream, and BOTAŞ tried to meet the rest of the need by importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the spot market.
According to BOTAŞ data, Turkey consumed 30.4 billion cubic meters of natural gas last year. A total of 16.6 percent of it was used for electricity production, 7.2 billion cubic meters for heating, 6.4 billion cubic meters by the industrial sector and 157 million cubic meters were used for manure production. While the amount of natural gas used by residences, the industrial sector and electricity production are rapidly increasing, the amount used in manure production has been on the decline.
Rapprochement with Iran may cause troubles for Turkey, including impacting whether Russia will supply additional natural gas in emergencies. Given the Russian warning, Turkish officials may ponder alternatives to overcome probable crises should Russia deny the country extra gas supplies in times of emergency. While the Blue Stream sufficed in the past, a memorandum of understanding signed between Turkey and Iran before the elections over transportation of Iranian gas to Europe reportedly failed to please Russia.
Former BOTAŞ President Gökhan Yardım underlines that it is impossible to make up the deficit without Russian gas under the current system. Yardım notes that the latest gas deals signed with Iran might have had an impact on the recent change in Russia's attitude, adding: "Turkey used to resolve its gas problems by relying on its good relations with Russia; however, bilateral relations have deteriorated recently. The relations should be restored since the contracts include provisions on the minimum and maximum procurement requirements. There is nothing in the contract stipulating provision of additional gas; it depends on the decision of the seller. Also Russia is able to provide gas to Turkey directly through the Blue Stream pipeline, and they did so very frequently in the past. Problems were overcome through the additional gas transferred by Blue Stream. Turkey should keep its relations with Russia intact considering this type of situation. The relations should also be good with Iran, but this country has an unfortunate history of not fulfilling its promises of timely delivery."
While BOTAŞ still remains silent on questions about how the deficit will be settled if Russia denies an additional supply and what measures have been taken in the face of the possible problems, an anonymous source found the latest developments to be normal. Recalling that Russia is still the largest gas supplier in the world, the same source said: "A memorandum of understanding was signed between Turkey and Iran to transport Iranian gas to Europe. This was presented as a huge foreign policy move, and some referred to the agreement as a move against Russia, upsetting the Russians. However, we are important to Russia and Russia is important to us. It supplies natural gas to us directly through Blue Stream, giving us the opportunity to purchase gas without any intermediaries. In this case excess demands are also met. The European countries do not have this luxury. The moves that would likely alienate Russia from Turkey may destroy this advantage. Utmost care and a focus on long-term projects are needed right now."
Greater crisis in store for 2011
The first natural gas contract signed between Turkey and Russia in 1986 is due to expire in 2011, a situation that could possibly lead to a natural gas shortage when the time comes, warned Yardım.
Saying timely measures are needed to avoid a problem, Yardım explained that the contract constitutes about 6 billion cubic meters of natural gas delivered annually through a pipeline known as the Western Line, passing through the Trakya region. Yardım warns that the region relies heavily on this pipeline and that when the contract expires in three years, Turkey might have difficulty finding a new natural gas partner. A strong candidate, Azerbaijan, is not likely to have extra supplies because it recently signed a natural gas deal with Greece. Additionally Turkey disagrees with its Azeri suppliers over prices and dates of first delivery. Yardım called on authorities to find the next natural gas supplier for the Western Line as soon as possible.
Source: Today's Zaman
Last Mod: 06 Ağustos 2007, 01:45