Will the Turkey-Russia conflict reflect on energy? - ERDAL TANAS KARAGÖL

Will the Turkey-Russia conflict reflect on energy?

The hottest topic on the agenda is how the crisis that started after the downing of the Russian jet that violated Turkish airspace would affect the relationship between the two countries.

The first question to come to mind is how the political tension between Turkey and Russia will be reflected in trade, the energy sector in particular.

Dependency is not unilateral

Energy is quite important for both Turkey and Russia. Turkey's dependency on Russia in terms of energy is a reality. We have been purchasing more than half of the energy we use from Russia. This is quite a high quantity. Turkey's dependency is not the only thing in question here.

Russia, whose economy is focused on energy resources, namely natural gas and oil revenues, has been experiencing a decline since the Ukrainian crisis.

Could the Russian economy, which shrank 3.9 percent between January and September in 2015, give up the natural gas revenue it has been earning from Turkey?

Russia, which has been experiencing a bottleneck in the economy due to US and EU sanctions, has been going through tough times with the fall of the oil prices. In such a situation, it does not seem possible that due to the political conflict it will restrict or cut the energy to Turkey.

Also, even if Russia had political disagreements with different countries several times in the past, these did not reflect on its economic relations.

It was pragmatic in its economic and commercial relations.

That is why Russia's taking a step that will get Turkey into trouble means a step it will take to put its own economy into trouble.

There will be a high price for the Russian economy if it plays the energy card at the last stage.

Besides this, in energy sales between Turkey and Russia there are rights guaranteed through international agreements.

Of course, Russia's not taking a step against Turkey in energy does not mean that it will follow the same policy in other areas. The statements Russia made especially support this view.

These statements are partly because of the perplexity of Russia.

It seems that Turkey's need for energy has encouraged Russia on the Syria issue.

However, one reality is overlooked: Although Turkey is dependent on energy, it is not a country that will turn this dependency into a weakness.

The importance of alternate energy lines

Let's assume that Russia made a move to start a negative process in energy for Turkey. Despite everything, it cut the energy flow without taking into consideration the cost this action would have on its national economy.

How will Turkey's economy be affected at this stage?

Even if it is difficult for Turkey to find an alternative natural gas supplier instead of Russia in the short term, it is not impossible. On one hand while the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP), which will carry Azeri natural gas to Europe through Turkey, has been rapidly progressing. On the other hand, players like Turkmenistan, which wants to join TANAP, have been an alternative for Turkey.

This conflict with Russia once more showed how important TANAP is for Turkey. It also showed how much of a key role the energy issue has in country relations.

Also, the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq, Iran and the eastern Mediterranean are among the alternative natural gas suppliers. The natural gas reserve even in the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq can meet the natural gas needs of Turkey for 50 years.

In the process of removing the natural gas reserve there, Turkey's playing an active role and accelerating the process will open a new gate for Turkey in energy.

It is vitally important for Turkey to increase the diversification of projects like TANAP in the new period, to continue the determined attitude on the nuclear plant just as it did in the past to reduce the country's energy dependency.

Finally, Berat Albayrak, who knows the energy sector well and has a background in energy, taking the post of energy minister from former Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız, who played a major role in the formation of a strong energy structure with TANAP, a nuclear plant and Northern Iraqi Kurdish oil, will make significant progress in reducing Turkey's energy dependency and on the path to becoming an energy hub.



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