Analysis: Can Türkiye become a gas hub?
A Turkmenistan-Türkiye gas pipeline as an alternative seems compelling for Turkmenistan not only in terms of customer diversity but also in terms of secure delivery of Turkmen gas to the West
As we all know, Türkiye has become a critical crossroads for natural gas and oil. In other words, the pipelines from Iraq, Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan to Europe pass through Türkiye, which has become the world’s largest transit center.
To keep its supply resources firm, Türkiye primarily receives energy from many countries like Iraq, Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan via pipelines, and Qatar and Algeria as LNG and ensures its energy security, as well as transferring surplus energy to countries in Europe.
Marketing diversity for Türkmenistan
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had a critical meeting with the presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan last weekend.
Turkmenistan is known to possess the fourth-largest natural gas reserve in the world. It sells its gas cheaply to Russia, China or Iran to reach the West indirectly via Türkiye. It is stuck in the region and cannot diversify its markets. Its major direct buyers are somehow in conflict with high-volume-energy-consuming wealthy Western customers.
After the Karabakh War, discussions about the transportation of Turkmen natural gas via the Caspian Sea came to our agenda. Subsequently, the importance of the Organization of Turkic States (OTS) increased, and from this point of view, the existence of the organization attracted extreme attention. The transfer of Turkmen gas to Europe via Türkiye became a primary item on the agenda of the OTS.
Black Sea gas and infrastructure
In the past months, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement that Türkiye may be a natural gas trade center has made the topic an agenda, and Türkiye has started discussions on this issue.
If the discussion on Türkiye’s becoming a gas hub had started 10 years ago, we would most likely have complained about facing major infrastructure problems. Türkiye has invested in an ecosystem of natural gas and oil, step by step, within the last 20 years. Such investment included all related fields, from tiny distribution channels to high-capacity storage facilities.
Türkiye, on one side, continued to search for gas in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea by holding its own sophisticated seismic research vessels and drilling rigs. We eventually came across a sizeable gas reserve in the Black Sea. Türkiye planned and started extracting and transferring the gas to the country without losing time, and we expect the gas will reach the mainland by the beginning of next year.
On the other hand, Türkiye, which has laid natural gas pipelines in the entire country, has established an infrastructure that will deliver natural gas to all its provinces, even to its towns, and perhaps to its villages in time.
Türkiye has also taken critical steps in LNG transfer and storage facilities, which have the utmost importance from the energy security point of view.
Decades of efforts
Putin’s idea makes sense, as Türkiye has already built the necessary infrastructure to become a natural gas hub. Our late President Turgut Özal initiated an energy vision. This opportunity of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Türkiye, which carries its energy vision forward by using the conjuncture of its time, is not a coincidence. It is the result of a rational investment program carried out step by step over 20 years within a climate of political stability.
This makes the recent meeting held in Turkmenistan much more meaningful. Iran and Russia buy Turkmen gas cheaply and use it in their own countries or transfer it to others. A Turkmenistan-Türkiye gas pipeline as an alternative seems compelling for Turkmenistan not only in terms of customer diversity but also in terms of secure delivery of Turkmen gas to the West.
When the flow of history makes a country a center or if a country catches a climate of advancement, all other conditions develop in the country’s favor. There are historical opportunities for Türkiye in many fields, including foreign policy, economy and energy, and the Republic of Türkiye is doing its best to use them well.
Balances in world trade are changing, and the economy is gradually shifting from West to East. As Türkiye is becoming a center in aviation, there are clear indications that Türkiye will also become an energy hub within the next decade.