Turkey is gaining significance as an energy corridor supplying oil and gas to Europe from oil-rich Central Asian and Middle Eastern countries. But first, it must meet its own energy demands.

Gas flames are seen burning on a cooker.
Gas flames are seen burning on a cooker. (Reuters)

Turkey has ranked the highest in terms of energy demands among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries over the past 15 years, according to data collected by the Turkish government.

The country wants to be an energy centre, being strategically located at the crossroads of oil-rich former Soviet and Middle Eastern nations, and European countries in need of oil and gas supplies.

Turkey imports most of its energy, as domestic resources only account for 26 percent of its total demand. 

Oil, natural gas, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) are Turkey's top imports, having costed the country $198.6 billion in 2016.

Oil

Turkey imports much of its oil from two countries Azerbaijan and Iraq. The two nations combined annually supply around 120 million tonnes of crude oil, with nearly 71 million tonnes coming from two pipelines in Iraq.

In 2016, domestic oil consumption was around 42 million tonnes, having increased from 38 million in 2015. 

(TRTWorld)

The remainder of that the oil is sent to European energy consumer markets. Ankara also sells refined black crude back to Iraq.

Despite being surrounded by oil-rich countries, Turkey has few known oil fields of its own. 

Last year, Turkey's domestic production of oil was around 2.6 million tonnes per year, drilled from the southeastern Batman province.

Natural gas

Turkey is an important consumer of natural gas and its demand has been growing.

However, domestic production cannot keep up with that demand, having contributed only one percent of the total needed last year.

There are four operational gas pipelines in Turkey. Two of them come from Russia, the biggest supplier of natural gas, having pumped 53 percent of total consumption in 2016.

It is followed by Iran and Azerbaijan, having supplied 31 percent of the total demand last year.

Natural gas pipelines to Turkey from Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran.
Natural gas pipelines to Turkey from Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran. (TRTWorld)

Turkey’s geo-strategic role as a transit country could open the way for it to be an energy hub for continental Europe.

Ankara has contracted and begun construction on two new pipelines — Anatolia Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP) and TurkStream Gas Pipeline Project.

Late last year, Turkey and Russia agreed on the construction of TurkStream, which would run from Russia through the Black Sea to a receiving terminal on the Turkish coast some 100 kilometres west of Istanbul. 

TurkishStream and TANAP projects are under construction.
TurkishStream and TANAP projects are under construction. (TRTWorld)

The dispute between Russia and Ukraine, an eastern European country which stands in Russia’s way to Europe through Black Sea, prompted Moscow to strike a pipeline deal to reach a European market through Turkey. 

And TANAP, which is of strategic importance for both Azerbaijan and Turkey, was signed between the two countries in late 2011 to send Azerbaijani gas to Turkey, and then on to Europe. 

Azerbaijan’s energy company SOCAR holds 58 percent stake in the project, Turkey’s pipeline operator BOTAS owns 30 percent, while British BP acquired 12 percent. 

LNG

Algeria, Qatar and Nigeria are the top three countries supplying LNG to Turkey, having pumped more than 90 percent of Turkey’s LNG supply, according to data by BOTAS.

LNG accounted for 16 percent of Turkey’s total energy supply last year.

The country also imports LNG from Norway and Trinidad and Tobago, but with small amounts arriving by sea at Turkey’s two ports — Tekirdag and Izmir

LNG tankers reach to Turkey's Tekirdag and Izmir cities.
LNG tankers reach to Turkey's Tekirdag and Izmir cities. (TRTWorld)

Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria, all on Black Sea coasts, have also proposed to build terminals along their shores to turn LNG coming from the Mediterranean into natural gas for domestic use.

However, Turkey, whose straits are the only way for LNG tankers to reach those countries, has opposed the idea. Ankara says it would endanger the straits, which are already major shipping chokepoints. 

Source: TRT World