Israel energy envoy Lotem in Ankara

Israel energy envoy Lotem in Ankara

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Israel energy envoy Lotem in Ankara

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız (R) is at yesterday’s conference. AA photo

Israel has sent a senior energy official to Ankara to monitor developments in the sector amid a growing thaw between Israel and Turkey, but the latter has reiterated its desire to wait for full political normalization before pursuing greater energy cooperation with the eastern Mediterranean state.

Michael Lotem, a special envoy for energy of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, is currently in Ankara, attending the 12th Turkish International Oil & Gas Conference (TUROGE). Lotem, who will deliver a speech today at the conference, did not hold any meetings with Turkish officials either from the Energy Ministry or the Foreign Ministry.

Asked about the prospects of energy cooperation with Israel, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said it was too early to discuss energy projects as Turkey is still evaluating the aftermath of Israel’s apology for the 2010 Mavi Marmara raid.

“In the future, economic feasibility will come after political feasibility. As political feasibility grows, then there will be more energy projects [with Israel],” Yıldız said.

In 2009 Israel discovered massive offshore reserves of natural gas. A burst of exploration followed, and 18 new wells are expected to have been drilled at a cost of $1.8 billion by the end of the year.

Israel has offered to lay an undersea natural gas pipeline to Turkey’s south coast in order to sell energy to Europe, but the Turkish government does not intend to respond until there is substantial rapprochement between the two sides.

Ties between Turkey and Israel hit a historic low after Israel’s deadly May 2010 raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara aid flotilla ship that killed eight Turkish citizens and one U.S. citizen of Turkish origin.

Turkey’s role in European energy security; the diversification of natural gas supply routes; the latest developments on hydrocarbon exploration; drilling and production activities in the Black and Mediterranean seas, as well as northern Iraq; the future of unconventional hydrocarbons and impacts on the global energy market; and regional dynamics in petroleum products are among the topics being discussed at the two-day conference.Ergün Olgun, former undersecretary of the presidency of northern Cyprus; Samir Kerimli, first vice president of SOCAR (State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic) Turkey, as well as senior civil servants from Turkey, are among the participants at the TUROGE conference.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s TPAO has applied to participate in an exploratory drilling project off the coast of Lebanon, the energy minister also said.

The minister also said Ankara would be respectful to Baghdad’s sensitivities in case of a possible Turkey-KRG deal.