US report claims Turkey 'well placed' to be oil and gas hub

US Energy Information Administration (EIA) says Turkey is becoming progressively significant hub for oil and natural gas

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Turkey is well placed and an increasingly significant hub for oil and natural gas transits from the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia to Europe and the Atlantic, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said.

In its country analysis published early July, the US administration emphasized that Turkey has been a major transit point for oil, and is becoming more important as a transit point for natural gas.

On naval oil transit, Turkey's straits, Bosphorus and Dardanelles, are the gateways for Russian and Caspian crude oil to international markets.

The Turkish straits are the sixth biggest choke point in the world with 2.9 million barrels a day of crude transited through in 2013, according to EIA's World Oil Transit Chokepoints report published in November 2014.

This constituted 5.1 percent of the 56.5 million barrels a day of maritime oil trade, and 3.2 percent of the 90.1 million barrels a day of world crude oil supply in 2013.

Oil pipelines

Turkey has two oil pipelines, one coming from Iraq to Turkey's southeast, and the other coming from Azerbaijan -- the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline.

The Iraqi pipeline has two branches. The 620-mile pipeline (990 kilometers) coming from the oil-rich Kirkuk province in Iraq, which has a capacity to carry 1.5 million barrels of crude oil per day. However, it is seldom used due to the presence of Daesh militants in Iraq.

The other branch is coming from the Taq Taq field near Erbil in northern Iraq. The 250-mile pipeline (400 kilometers) has a daily capacity of 600,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

Although there has been recent disputes about oil transit and budget shares between the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil and the central government in Baghdad, the EIA says around 550,000 barrels of crude oil per day on average was sent through that pipeline to Ceyhan in southern Turkey in May.  

The two lines merge near the Turkey-Iraq border, and the crude oil is piped, and sometimes carried via trucks, to the Ceyhan port, from where oil is shipped to international markets.

"In 2014, the port of Ceyhan handled more than 130,000 barrels a day of Iraqi crude oil exports and more than 650,000 barrels a day of Caspian crude oil exports most of which were destined for Europe," the EIA said.

For Caspian crude, the 1,100 mile-long (1760 kilometers) Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline from Azerbaijan plays a significant role. It began operating in 2006 and has a capacity to carry 1.2 million barrels of crude oil daily.  

Gas pipelines

"Turkey is primed to become a significant natural gas pipeline hub," the EIA said. "However, currently most of its natural gas pipeline connections only bring natural gas into the country, as growing demand has left little natural gas for export."

The EIA explained that this was a result of Turkey's growing economy and increasing energy demand as the country managed to avoid a recession that has hit most European countries.

"Since 2010, Turkey has experienced some of the fastest growth in total energy demand among countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)," the EIA noted.

The Iranian gas pipeline, also known as the Tabriz-Ankara pipeline, provides Turkey with 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year, according to figures from the Turkish Petroleum Pipeline Corporation, BOTAS.

Meanwhile, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline, known as the South Caucasus Pipeline, carries 6.6 billion cubic meters of gas every year to Turkey.

Turkey imports around 14 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year from Russia via the Trans Balkan natural gas pipeline through its Thrace region in the country's northwest.

In addition, it receives 16 billion cubic meters of gas annually from Russia via the Blue Stream pipeline that runs under the Black Sea.

Meanwhile, Turkey's Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) project, which is planned to become operational in 2018 with an initial capacity of 16 billion cubic meters, will carry Azeri gas through Turkey to Greece and further into Europe. Its capacity is planned to increase to 23 billion cubic meters by 2023 and to 31 billion cubic meters by 2026.

The proposed Turkish pipeline project is to carry 63 billion cubic meters of gas under the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey's Thrace region to reach Greece and supply gas to Europe.