Turkey has major chance to diversify gas portfolio: IEA head

Turkey has major chance to diversify gas portfolio: IEA head

Neşe İdil – ISTANBUL
Turkey has major chance to diversify gas portfolio: IEA head

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Turkey possesses a major opportunity to diversify its gas portfolio, the chief of the International Energy Agency (IEA) has said while commenting on the steps that Turkey could take regarding energy.

“I think Turkey is taking very significant and efficient steps on the energy issue. A serious amount of liquefied natural gas [LNG] will enter the markets and this presents a window of opportunity for Turkey,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol told the Hürriyet Daily News on the sidelines of the Atlantic Council Istanbul Summit held on April 27, adding that the country needed to “take the necessary steps at the right time.”

“Second, Turkey is taking a step to switch to a significant technology, which is nuclear energy. I hope that it will attain a result in the shortest amount of time and in the safest and economic way. Finally, our country is geographically located between important producers and consumers, so it needs to take advantage of this by accelerating its energy diplomacy,” he said. 

Noting that safety was the most critical issue when developing nuclear energy, Birol said there were three important aspects that the country needed to focus on. 

“There are three crucial choices to be made here. It’s very important in terms of which partners we will work with. Who will be our partners? Are they trustworthy? What have they done or not done in the past? Which projects have they carried out, and which results did they obtain in return? All of these need to be checked,” he added. 

Birol also said the best technology should be selected when developing nuclear energy and that authorities must be sure that it was the safest one. 

“Third, the new contracts should be the projects or agreements that don’t place burdens on Turkey, but lift it economically. If we are careful on these three issues, then I think that switching to nuclear energy will be an extremely important gain for Turkey regarding its energy, safety and foreign policy,” he added. 

During his speech at the summit, Birol said the “shale revolution” had affected discussions in geopolitics given that shale oil production in the United States is on the rise. 

“We see a substantial amount of energy coming from Australia and the U.S. Lots of energy is coming onto the markets, and that means that the hands of gas importers will be stronger. There is a historical chance for countries like Turkey to make the most out of it,” he said, noting the country had a huge potential in terms of renewable energy. 

‘Fairer oil prices needed’

Qatari Energy and Industry Minister Mohammed Saleh al-Sada, meanwhile, said the oil industry was very old and had experienced all manners of challenges, leading it to reach “a very high degree of maturity.” 

During his speech, al-Sada stressed the significance of market stability and balance in the market.

“A stable market and fair prices are needed. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries [OPEC] is developing relations and has ambitious governmental plans,” he said. 

Noting that the economy of the world was interlinked, the Qatari minister said oil prices were linked to world economic growth.  

“A fair price and balance in the markets is for the good of all,” he added. 

Atlantic Council President and CEO Frederick Kempe also highlighted Turkey’s role in forming a bridge between energy producing and consuming countries, while noting that technological developments were shaping the energy sector. 

Also speaking at the summit, Helima Croft, managing director and chief commodities strategist of RBC Capital Markets, said 2016 was the year that OPEC gained its significance back. 

Another speaker, Crescent Petroleum CEO Majid Jafar, said the increase in the shale production in the U.S. was “extremely positive” from the private sector perspective but that the Middle East would continue to be important regarding energy.

“Politicians in the U.S. may feel less dependent on the Middle East, but we’re all interdependent and that’s a good thing,” Jafar said, highlighting the significance of depoliticizing economical decisions for sustainability.

Ken Koyama from the Institute of Energy Economics in Japan, meanwhile, stressed the importance of nuclear energy. 

Stephen J. Hadley, a former U.S. national security adviser to President George W. Bush, also praised Istanbul as a “vibrant and stunning city,” adding that Turkey provided an ideal platform on discussing the energy issues and had “immense significance” on the global stage.