Electricity from Fatmagül Sultan for Syrian refugees
About two weeks ago in this column, I wrote about the departure on a windy day of the powership named Fatmagül Sultan toward Beirut, the ship that was built at the Istanbul Tuzla shipyard by Karadeniz Holding.
On a two-day trip to Beirut I had the opportunity both to visit the powership Fatmagül Sultan, which started providing electricity to this city in the beginning of April, and also to have a long conversation with the CEO of Karadeniz Holding, Orhan Remzi Karadeniz.
Beirut, just like Istanbul, has turned into a giant construction site. It differs from Istanbul maybe because it accommodates projects designed by famous contemporary architects such as Jean Nouvel.
Lebanon, with a population of 4 million, has been the scene of one of the bloodiest civil wars of its time and is now trying to find ways to tackle the Syrian refugee problem, the figure of which has reached 1 million.
As Lebanese Energy and Water Minister Gebran Bassil, who came to visit the Fatmagül Sultan, said, the country’s electricity needs have increased 27 percent in the past two years because of Syrian refugees.
In other words, the power Fatmagül Sultan will provide will meet this “unexpected” increase in demand.
Bassil half-jokingly asked Turkey to “donate” a second “powership” for the 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon; Turkey with a population of 75 million has accommodated 200,000 Syrian refugees.
For this demand, Karadeniz pointed out Turkish Ambassador to Lebanon İnan Özyıldız, who was accompanying the Lebanese minister, and said, “This is the right address.”
As a result, Karadeniz Holding, which has struck a deal with the Lebanese government for 270 megawatts in three years, emerges as an energy actor in the East Mediterranean, the region that is the scene of new energy balances.
Karadeniz said in addition to the three operating in the Persian Gulf region, the two in Pakistan and – now – one powership in Lebanon, they have three more orders for floating power plants that are currently being built. We also learned that Yemen is among the countries that have placed orders for the powerships, which are being built in Tuzla shipyards with an innovative design.
Well, what does Bassil say to Israel’s starting to pump natural gas recently from the Tamar reserve in the East Mediterranean?
“The Tamar reserve is not as close to us as it is thought to be. It is 50 kilometers from our border. We will also start drilling for natural gas on our continental shelf soon. We have put out the tender.”
According to what Bassil conveyed to us, there is also one Turkish firm among those who have applied for the bid for the Lebanese continental shelf.
Despite our efforts to learn it, the Lebanese minister did not disclose the name of that Turkish firm; however, in the light of these latest developments, we understand that we will hear Turkey’s name more frequently in the new energy equation in the East Mediterranean.
Right at this point, I want to highlight the conclusion of Fatih Birol, Ph.D., the chief economist of the International Energy Agency.
According to Dr. Birol, if Turkey makes use of the opportunities in northern Iraq and the Caspian Sea, as well as the East Mediterranean, then it will be able to make a significant leap both in the economy and the political arena.
“Surrounding Turkey, there is almost 70 percent of the world’s energy reserves. But most importantly, the cost is low; for this reason, these reserves come to the forefront.” According to Birol, Turkey literally has a “historic opportunity” ahead.
Is the state aware of this?
Birol stated that companies such as Genel Enerji, the biggest energy company in northern Iraq, should increase. According to Birol, in the new equation that has emerged in the East Mediterranean, the question of by which means Israel will export the natural gas it will drill is unanswered.
According to Birol it is almost inevitable that Turkey will take its place alongside Americans, Italians and Greeks in the new equation in the East Mediterranean.