Natural Gas Distribution Companies' Association (GAZBİR) President Yaşar Arslan said natural gas consumption in the first quarter of this year stood at 3 billion cubic meters (cbm) marking an increase compared to the same period last year, saying: "As GAZBİR, we announced the consumption estimate as 47.5 billion cbm by the end of this year but, in addition to consumption for heating purposes, the consumption of natural gas for electricity production is also expected to increase compared to the previous year," Arslan said, noting that an all-time record is likely to be achieved this year with consumption approaching 50 billion cbm.
Arslan told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the increase in natural gas consumption in the first quarter of the year was caused by the fact that the weather was colder than anticipated and that the highest daily consumption in this period exceeded 240 million cbm. Informing that 1 million new consumers obtain natural gas per year, Arslan stated that, as a result, the daily peak demand will increase by 10 million cbm every year during the next five years compared to the previous year.
Arslan said consumption rates for natural gas for electricity production stood at around 3.6 billion cbm with an increase of 6 percent compared to the same period of the previous year, adding that this increase is expected to continue throughout the year.
Recalling that GAZBİR announced its estimate of 47.5 billion cbm in consumption by the end of 2017, Arslan said, "However, we saw an increase of close to 3 billion meters in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the first quarter of last year. In addition to the consumption for heating purposes, the consumption of natural gas for electricity production is also expected to increase compared to the previous year." Suggesting that with this approach, it is possible to achieve record-breaking consumption in 2017 after 2016 which closed with 46 billion cbm of natural gas consumption marking a significant decrease compared to the previous year, Arslan recalled that the highest consumption so far has been 48.7 billion cbm in 2014. The president said, "As GAZBİR, we update our estimate for this year. An all-time record can be achieved this year with a consumption rate approaching 50 billion cbm."
Floating LNG facility becomes the cure
According to GAZBIR data, natural gas consumption in the January-March period this year increased by about 21 percent compared to the same period last year. While 14 billion cbm of natural gas were consumed in the first quarter of last year, consumption amounted to 17 billion cbm in the same period of this year.
Due to the cold winter season that gripped much of the country this year, a residence consumed 100 cbm of natural gas more in the first quarter compared to the same period last year.
The amount of imports also increased in the said period in tandem with the increasing demand. Much of the increasing demand during the winter period was met through Turkey's first LNG storage and re-gasification facility (FSRU), which was launched in İzmir's Aliağa district in December 2016 with the initiative of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.
A storage capacity of 5.3 billion cbm was included among the entry terminals of the natural gas imported by Turkey, as the floating vessel has a storage capacity of 145,000 cbm of liquid natural gas and can supply over 5.3 billion cbm of gas annually to the national system. Therefore, LNG's share in supply resources increased from 20 percent to 25 percent in the first quarter of this year.
Inaugurated by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and realized with an investment of TL 326 million ($90.71 million), the FRSU plant can provide up to 20 million cbm of gas to Turkey's natural gas network per day.
Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak stated that the plant was commissioned in a record period, stressing that this capacity increase has strengthened their ability to meet record consumption demands this year, which saw a very harsh winter season.
"We are not satisfied and we will increase our LNG capacity to 107 million by next winter and will do so by expanding the capacity at two LNG plants and by commissioning the second FSRU," Albayrak said, adding, "As a country that consumes between 200 and 250 million cbm of natural gas per day in the winter months, we aim to provide at least 300 million cbm of daily gas supply to the system."