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

What is the current state and direction of US-Turkish energy cooperation?

The US and Turkey have an excellent economic relationship, particularly in the energy sector. US companies are leaders in developing energy efficiency technologies and have an opportunity to support Turkey's efforts in this area. Some other potential areas for collaboration include shale gas development, clean coal, smart grids, energy storage, and hydrokinetic energy generation. For example, in July 2013, Turkish officials visited Texas to meet with regulators and to visit US shale gas fields. Turkey has expressed interest in learning from international experience related to environmental protection issues, investment models, and regulatory frameworks for unconventional oil and gas development. The Texas visit allowed us to share our experiences as Turkey begins to explore the development and utilization of its own unconventional oil and gas resources.

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 for stage two 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 to improve the energy security of Europe, Turkey, and Azerbaijan.

“US companies are leaders in developing energy efficiency technologies and have an opportunity to support Turkey's efforts."

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.

During your keynote speech at the Atlantic Council Summit in Istanbul, you noted that governments have thus far struggled during the deployment phase of the technological innovation chain in the energy sector. How can governments like Turkey overcome these obstacles?

Turkey is addressing climate change through a comprehensive strategic plan. Turkey's goals to generate 30% of its power from renewable sources and 10% of its power from nuclear energy by 2023 are both reasonable and attainable. Turkey is also making a concerted effort to increase energy efficiency. By introducing incentives for industry to adopt energy efficiency measures and creating certification requirements for energy service companies and energy managers, Turkey is encouraging businesses to look critically at their energy usage. The Near-Zero Zone project, which the US Department of Energy developed in cooperation with Turkey's Ministry of Energy, helps address the challenge of efficiency. The project was designed to reduce Turkey's dependence on energy imports, bolster energy security, cut carbon emissions, and make industry more profitable, while creating business opportunities for US and Turkish energy efficiency technology and service providers. The project, which provided 20 companies in Izmir with energy assessments, was designed to help companies in Turkey's Organized Industrial Zones recognize the benefits of cost-effective energy efficiency investments. The project demonstrated the potential to reduce energy consumption by approximately 20% with a return on investment as short as 18 months. The project has the potential to accelerate the growth of an energy efficiency market in Turkey and promote industrial energy efficiency across the country. The US and Turkey's work on renewables and efficiency not only demonstrate leadership on climate change, but also help to enhance energy security by reducing demand and diversifying supply and will promote economic prosperity and job creation. And, of course, reducing greenhouse gases creates a cleaner environment and protects natural resources for not only the two countries, but for the global community.

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 that the two countries will continue to strengthen their cooperation on energy policy.

© The Business Year - February 2014