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Turkey 2012 | ENERGY & MINING | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Taner Yıldız, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, on privatization, renewable and nuclear energy, and exploration activities.

Taner Yıldız
BIOGRAPHY
Before entering politics, Taner Yıldız worked for the Kayseri Electricity Generation Company, where he became a Board Member and General Manager. In 2002 he was elected as a Member of Parliament for Kayseri and served as energy adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In May 2009 he was appointed Energy and Natural Resources Minister.

Have government privatization policies succeeded in keeping up with growing energy demands?

Privatization in the energy sector is an important part of our liberalization policy, and that's why we will continue with energy privatization policies. As the government, we have to focus and invest more on education, health, and justice. In the last nine years, we have increased the share of the private sector from 34% to 54% in energy generation. We want to boost this rate to 75% over the short and medium term.

Energy imports have significantly contributed to Turkey's current account deficit. What role will the energy sector play in reducing the deficit while meeting Turkey's growing energy needs?

Turkey imports nearly 93% of its oil and 98% of its gas, which we need for energy. This is one of the big contributors to the current account deficit. We aim to reduce the portion of energy we import. In this regard, we encourage the sector to invest in domestic and renewable resources. This is an important project to be applied because we aim to reach 30% for natural gas, petrol, and renewables, and 10% for nuclear power by the time of the Turkish Republic's 100th anniversary in 2023.

As Turkey's economy and population continues to grow, what are the policy measures being taken to prevent an electricity deficit?

Turkey will be able to meet its electricity demand in 2015 when the new generation facilities currently under construction will be completed and start to produce electricity. Rising electricity demand will not create any threat to Turkey since power plants currently under construction and additional energy projects will produce more electricity than needed.

What are the practical implications of the latest Shah Deniz II gas agreement signed between Prime Minister Erdoğan and Azerbaijani President Aliyev?

Gas from the Azerbaijani Shah Deniz field can be transported to Turkey's western borders via the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), and then be delivered to the European markets via a new version of the Nabucco pipeline. A merger between TANAP and the Nabucco pipeline may be possible. It is possible link the two projects, and this is already being discussed. Turkey is one of the six partners in Nabucco. We are not the only responsible country for gas in this project; Turkey will undertake its duties as it is able.

What role do you envision renewable energy will play in meeting Turkey's energy needs?

Turkey is rich in terms of renewable resources. In geothermal energy resources, for example, Turkey ranks first in Europe and seventh in the world. Regarding wind energy, a rapid increase in terms of installed capacity—from 20 MW in 2002 to 1,800 MW today—has taken place. With the projects ongoing and in the pipeline, wind energy capacity will most likely demonstrate a further rapid and sharp increase. With a 132% increase from 2008 to 2009 in installed wind capacity, Turkey ranked second after Mexico according to the World Wind Energy Association. We believe that renewable energy will be the most important resource for Turkey and the world. We are planning to increase the portion of renewables in the energy mix to 30% by 2023.

What portion of energy does the government envision nuclear will provide?

Making use of safe, low-cost, and environmentally friendly energy resources is the focus of our development strategies. Turkey's first nuclear power plant will be built by a Russian company in Akkuyu, near the southern port city of Mersin. The second nuclear plant, slated for the Sinop region on Turkey's Black Sea coast, is still up for grabs. Turkey has launched its ambitions for a nuclear program. We aim to meet the country's energy needs sustainably. We will take the precautions needed after the Fukushima disaster, but continue to show determination on nuclear power. In this context, we intend to set up two nuclear plants that will meet 10% of Turkey's energy demand by 2023.

Turkey is actively seeking oil and gas in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. What are the anticipated results of exploration in those regions?

Oil and gas exploration will begin in the Mediterranean in the Gulf of Mersin and Iskenderun with a company selected by the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO). We are considering proposals now. I hope we will decide which company is more suitable and sign agreement in 2012. TPAO and Shell signed a farm-in and joint operating agreement (FJOA) covering offshore Antalya on November 23, 2011. In the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, TPAO may begin exploration for oil at any moment. And also, we will continue to seek oil and gas in the Black Sea. We are hopeful that there is oil and gas in these regions.