Türkiye is accelerating its steps to realize the target of becoming a gas trading hub and looks to take advantage of its strong infrastructure, spearheaded by increasing liquefied natural gas capacity and underground gas storage.
Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed Türkiye as a base for gas supplies earlier in October after the Nord Stream pipelines under the Baltic Sea were damaged in September by blasts. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says he agrees with the idea.
Türkiye is home to seven international natural gas pipelines, four LNG facilities and floating storage regasification units (FSRU). It has the only regional organized natural gas market under its energy exchange market – Energy Exchange Istanbul (EXIST).
Erdoğan has ordered the country’s Energy and Natural Resources Ministry to work on building a hub following talks with Putin on the issue. A road map to realize the goal is expected to be ready by the end of the year, Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said last week.
Türkiye’s extensive natural gas infrastructure supports not only domestic energy security but also European energy security. The European Union, which previously turned to Russia for about 40% of its gas needs, is seeking to wean itself off Russian energy following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
One of the ways of Russian gas reaching Europe is through the dual TurkStream natural gas pipeline. With a total capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters (bcm), each line has an annual capacity of 15.75 bcm. The first delivers gas to Türkiye and the other to Europe.
The pipeline, originating on the Russian coast, runs 930 kilometers (577 miles) through the Black Sea and reaches ashore in the Thrace region of Türkiye.
The Blue Stream, a major trans-Black Sea gas pipeline that has the capacity to carry 16 bcm of natural gas per year from Russia to Türkiye, is also part of the infrastructure that could help Türkiye acquire the hub status.
The Russian Federation-Türkiye Natural Gas Main Transmission Line, currently without any flows, and which runs 845 kilometers from Malkoçlar on the Bulgarian border to its final destination in Ankara also offers the potential to open the door to Europe.
As one of the key projects of the past few years, the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) transports natural gas from the Shah Deniz-II field in the Caspian Sea as well as from other fields in the southern part of the Caspian Sea to Türkiye and onto Europe by connecting to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) on the Turkish-Greek border.
TANAP, starting at the Georgian-Turkish border, runs 1,811 kilometers through 20 provinces to deliver 6 bcm of gas annually to Türkiye and 10 bcm to Europe.
The pipeline has been designed to deliver 31 bcm, and work is now continuing for raising that capacity to the highest possible level.
Türkiye is also home to the Baku-Tiflis-Erzurum pipeline. However, the contract for gas transmission via this pipeline was terminated last year. Nonetheless, the pipeline could be reopened to cater for extra volumes from Azerbaijan to Türkiye.
The East Anatolian Natural Gas Main Transmission Line is a 1,491-kilometer-long pipeline with a capacity to transfer 10 bcm annually.
The Türkiye-Greece Natural Gas Pipeline, which started operations in 2007, enables natural gas transportation from Türkiye to Greece.
Alongside international natural gas projects contributing to the region’s energy security, Türkiye is set to start production from the massive gas reserve it has found at the Sakarya gas field in the Black Sea.
The field is slated to hold around 540 bcm of gas that was gradually discovered since August 2020. Türkiye looks to start pumping the gas to its main grid as soon as March of 2023, with sustained plateau production expected to start some three to four years later.
Among others, Türkiye could also act as a conduit between neighboring suppliers from the East Mediterranean, Turkmenistan and Iraq to gain access to the European market in the coming years.
Türkiye has been shielded to an extent from the worst impacts of the global energy crisis through its LNG and FSRU facilities that have enabled flexibility in natural gas supplies.
The country’s first FSRU facility, based in the Aegean province of Izmir and operated by Etki Liman, has the capacity to provide 20 million cubic meters of natural gas per day to the national gas grid.
The Ertuğrul Gazi FSRU, with a capacity of 170,000 cubic meters and an annual regasification capacity of 2.5 bcm, is one of the latest of the country’s projects contributing to energy security. It provides about 28 million cubic meters of gas daily to the country’s system.
The Marmara Ereğlisi FSRU located in the Thrace region can send up to 37 million cubic meters of gas per day through its three tankers, each comprising 85,000 cubic meters of storage capacity.
Construction is ongoing for the Saros FSRU facility, which is considered key for supply security in the Marmara region.
Gas storage is playing an increasing role in energy security with the expansion of facilities.
The country’s first gas storage, the Silivri Underground Natural Gas Facility, now has 4.6 bcm of storage capacity per year.
The Tüz Gölü (Lake Tuz) unit, located in the central Anatolian province of Aksaray, is currently storing 1.2 bcm of natural gas a year.
Plans are afoot to expand capacity to 5.4 bcm by 2023.
With the capacity increase in the Tüz Gölü facility, both underground storage facilities combined will enable the supply of 20% of the country’s annual gas demand.
Türkiye’s annual gas consumption rose from 48 bcm in 2020 to a record 60 bcm in 2021 and is expected to reach 62 bcm to 63 bcm this year, according to official figures.