ISTANBUL (Turkish Daily News)—Turkey’s efforts to become a transit country between gas suppliers to the east, south and north and consumers to the west are fraught with danger, energy analyst Necdet Pamir said in an interview with daily Cumhuriyet.
According to Pamir, the natural-gas pipelines to Europe that are in the planning stages are competing projects, not complementary ones, as some officials have suggested.
The two projects are South Stream, which plans to bring gas from Russia to Europe, and Nabucco, which is expected to initially carry gas from Azerbaijan and may later expand its supply sources to include Iran, Qatar, Iraq, Egypt and even Russia.
South Stream’s advantage is the fact that it has a ready supply of natural gas from Russia, Pamir said, while Nabucco suffers from a lack of suppliers.
“Nabucco’s initial objective, while not voiced, was to create an alternative to Russia for the European Union when it came to gas,” he said. Though Russia is currently being mentioned as a possible supplier for Nabucco, he added, “this is not the basis of the project.”
Pamir said Turkey was squeezed between rival U.S and Russian policies when it came to energy issues.
Other than Russia, none of the possible Nabucco suppliers could be counted upon to provide enough gas to fill the pipeline, he said.
Strategic pipelines such as Nabucco and South Stream will require significant investment, said Pamir. “It is impossible for the two pipelines to get financial backing. States may be able to invest part of the money, but once one goes to international investors, they will ask about the supply issue,” he said. “The South Stream pipeline is in an advantageous position in this regard. If one gets enough investment, the other will be delayed for 10 to 15 years. In the end, the other may not even be necessary.”
Turkish companies that are in the process of exploiting northern Iraq’s natural-gas resources should be aware of the dangers, said Pamir, noting that the disagreement between the central authority in Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdish administration in the north over the exploitation of natural resources poses huge risks only some companies were willing to take.
He said Turkey needs to strengthen the Turkish Petroleum Corporation, or TPAO, and follow a coherent energy policy in the region rather then letting private companies take the lead in the sector. “If private companies are given this duty just to make a profit, one will be left with neither a successful energy policy nor regional respectability,”
If a country is economically and politically independent, it should formulate its policies according to its own interests, the analyst added, saying it was obvious that the United States would not be very accommodating of increased cooperation between Turkey and Iran in the field of natural gas.
Pamir added that both the United States and the EU were concerned about Turkey’s decision to cooperate with Russia on nuclear power.