ECONOMY

Diversifying energy sources, Turkey ready to deploy first drilling vessel

DIVERSIFYING ENERGY SOURCES, TURKEY READY TO DEPLOY FIRST DRILLING VESSEL

Trying to empower its energy supply security by diversifying resources, Turkey is launching major energy projects to become an important energy player in the region, and after receiving bids for a wind power plant tender, the government now focuses on the deployment of a drilling vessel for which negotiations are completed, Energy Minister Albayrak announced

Aiming to accomplish its expansive national energy policy, Turkey has accelerated the search for a wide array of energy resources, including the best utilization of local renewable resources and the survey of the surrounding Mediterranean and the Black Seas, where the country is currently engaging in a seismic survey with two vessels, the Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa and the Oruç Reis.

With an ambition to expand the scope of hydrocarbon exploration, Turkey is set to deploy its first drilling vessel in the last quarter as negotiations are completed, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak announced on Friday at a consultation meeting with energy scholars from Turkish universities regarding national energy and mining policy Drawing attention to the fact that the 21st century has been declared the century of natural gas by many reports prepared around the globe, Albayrak said: "As various reports have put forward, coal dominated the 19th century and as oil was the energy resource of the 20th century, the 21st century will be an era of natural gas. Considering the climate in which this ecosystem is unfolding, we are closely monitoring the liquefied natural gas [LNG]."

Albayrak indicated that Turkey will prioritize scientific developments in its attempts to increase its maritime hydrocarbon exploration. Recalling that the surveys in both the Mediterranean and the Black Seas continue with two seismic vessels, Albayrak announced that Turkey has concluded negotiations for the first drilling vessel, which will be deployed in the Mediterranean in the last quarter.

"We have completed the negotiations. With the drilling vessel that we are going to include in our inventory in the last quarter, we will carry out drilling operations with our own vessel and engineer," he said, and asserted that the Turkey has the right to conduct drilling and seismic survey operations in the Mediterranean over which nobody holds the monopoly.

Explaining that more than half of the current LNG capacity in the U.S. and Australia will enter the global energy supply system within the next five years, the minister cited the expert opinions foreseeing that around 100 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas will be released to the global market and highlighted the necessity for Turkey to invest in LNG infrastructure. Putting the first LNG floating storage and re-gasification unit (FSRU) into operation in late December, Turkey is planning to acquire the second and third FSRUs in the upcoming period. With the FSRU in operation and increasing the capacity of the existing LNG storage units in Silivri, Marmara Ereğlisi and İzmir Aliağa, Turkey's daily liquefied natural gas compression system increased to 64 million cubic meters, which was 34 million cubic meters the previous year, and the aim is to increase the figure to 107 million cubic meters by the end of this year. Moreover, the minister also informed that Turkey currently has a gas compression system of approximately 260 billion cubic meters and the country aims to increase this capacity to over 400 billion until 2020.

National energy policy essential for national security

Albayrak said that energy imports are recorded around $44 billion and the figure reaches $55 billion when mine imports are added. This huge import cost is widening the country's current account deficit as it heavily depends on foreign supplies to meet its energy demands. In a bid to compensate for its lack of natural resources, Turkey has been focusing on utilizing its domestic resources such as renewable energy projects and seismic surveys in the surrounding seas. "National energy policy is essential for a strong economy and national security," Albayrak said. The national energy strategy consists of three important trivets, he said: "Supply security, domestication of resources and predictability of the market are the three main parts of the national energy security that Turkey has been trying to ensure with numerous projects along with strong and effective energy diplomacy with energy producers and emerging markets.

Groundbreaking for Akkuyu to take place by year's end

Recalling that Turkey is taking major steps to diversify its energy supply resources to decrease dependency on imports, Albayrak said that nuclear energy will be one of the important subjects in the near future.

Indicating that important processes were experienced this year in terms of Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, which will be the first nuclear power plant in Turkey, Albayrak said that they hope its groundbreaking process will take place until the end of this year. "Our talks for the Sinop Nuclear Power Plant also came to an end. Starting with the first reactor in 2023, we hope we will put into action three nuclear power plants by 2030. We need to be prepared and train engineers who will work at the power plant," Albayrak said.

Evaluating the current situation in terms of education related to the nuclear department, he said that they need at least doctorate-level human resources in this area, Albayrak said: "In the light of National Energy and Mine Policy, we will be taking steps to communicate with you on important issues such as education, curriculum and energy diplomacy."

Interest in wind power plant shows trust in Turkey

Referring to the bids submitted by the eight wind turbine producers listed among the top 10 worldwide for the wind power renewable energy resource area (YEKA), Albayrak said that the wind power plant project is a very significant part of the Turkey's national energy and mining strategy.

"I am very proud to see that eight of the world's top ten wind turbine producers submitted bids for wind YEKA project. The project is a vital step toward domestication of energy resources. These bids prove that Turkey is both an alluring and safe country," he said, explaining that the four German, two Chinese, one American and one Danish companies that sent bids for the contract control 90 percent of the global wind turbine production.

Albayrak highlighted that the wind YEKA project has a goal to make Turkey a regional energy generation hub and to recruit local engineers in the production of wind power technology and announced that the bidding procees will be concluded with a Dutch auction model next week.

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