Turkey 2014 | ENERGY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ernest Moniz, US Secretary of Energy, on the state of US-Turkish energy cooperation.

Ernest Moniz
Ernest Moniz is the US Secretary of Energy. Before this position, he was the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was a faculty member since 1973. From 1997 until January 2001, he served as Under Secretary of the Department of Energy. From 1995 to 1997, he served as Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President.

The US has been a vocal supporter of the Southern Gas Corridor. What is the importance of Turkey to the project, and the US' regional energy strategy?

Turkey is recognized as an important transit country for energy resources. The Southern Gas Corridor will bring additional supplies and price competition and bolster both Turkey's and Europe's goal of a liberalized, competitive market for natural gas with greater choice and lower prices for consumers. The December 17 signing of the final investment decision (FID) for Phase II of the Shah Deniz natural gas production project was a tremendous milestone in realizing the Southern Corridor project. I want to underscore the strategic importance the US places on the realization of the Southern Gas Corridor. We believe this is a critical project that will improve the energy security of Europe, Turkey, and Azerbaijan.

How is the US working with Turkey in the renewable energy and clean coal sector to increase its energy efficiency and long-term sustainability?

We are building partnerships between academic institutions and our national laboratories in the US and Turkey to conduct joint research in the area of cleaner coal to ensure that coal is produced and burned efficiently with the least possible environmental impact. The US also recognizes that coal-fired power is increasing in Turkey, driven by its fast-growing energy demand and domestic coal reserves. This fact opens up numerous possibilities for the sharing of information between our two countries to ensure the minimization of the environmental impact of coal-produced power and to investigate new clean coal technologies, including carbon capture and sequestration. This year we began a research exchange program with the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), the leading agency for management, funding, and research in Turkey, to work on developing cleaner ways to utilize coal for energy. Turkey is also fortunate to have solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, and other resources. The Turkish government is committed to generating 30% of its energy from renewable resources by 2023. This is part of Turkey's efforts to enhance its energy security by diversifying its sources of supply through the development of domestic and renewable resources.

What is Washington's view on the Turkish-Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) oil and gas deal that could send Iraqi oil to world markets via Turkey?

The US wants to see Iraqi oil from all parts of that country—north to south—reaching global markets in a manner that reinforces regional energy security and allows markets to function optimally to support economic growth. However, oil and gas must be exported and marketed in a way that fulfills all parties' international obligations, and which reflects a constitutionally acceptable agreement between the government of Iraq and the KRG. Our position on energy trade from Iraq has been consistent and remains unchanged. The US does not support oil exports from any part of Iraq without the appropriate approval of the government of Iraq. The US supports a constitutional solution to resolve disputes over the management of Iraq's hydrocarbon resources. Maintaining a united and federal Iraq is a top priority of the US, and we are encouraged by the renewed dialogue between the KRG and the government of Iraq to work out their differences on energy policy. The US does not take sides in Iraq's internal disputes, but encourages both sides to come together in a way that allows all Iraqis to benefit from the country's rich natural resources. We are encouraged by signs of enhanced dialogue between the Turkish and Iraqi authorities in recent months. We are hopeful, too, that the two countries will continue to strengthen their cooperation on energy policy.