The 21st century is the century of natural gas. Many countries with natural gas resources are located in the north, east and south of Turkey. Therefore, Turkey is a country that has strategic significance in energy.
Turkey stands out in the energy field in its region, as it is a bridge between hydrocarbon reserves in the Middle East, the Caspian region and the Mediterranean, and European countries, the largest consuming countries, and as it ensures its own energy supply security.
Turkey's strategic position among countries that have natural gas resources and that consume natural gas offers significant advantages in terms of being both a corridor and a trade center in energy. For the first time, Turkey is at the point of turning the cost it has shouldered in this region for years into an advantage.
Many countries with energy resources want to actualize big energy projects with Turkey and thus reach Turkish and international markets via Turkey. That is why Turkey has come to be mentioned with its ongoing Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) project, Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant project and other major energy projects on the agenda.
Relations with Russia, which were strained after the downing of a Russian fighter jet, entered a process of normalization in 2016. With normalization, Russia signed the TurkStream project with Turkey. The TurkStream project will ensure Turkey's energy supply security and, at the same time, will play a key role in the energy supply security of EU countries if it is agreed on.
Natural gas projects that will enable the transportation of energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean region to Turkey and international markets via Turkey have also come to be expressed even more clearly.
In addition, the rising cooperation between Turkey and Asian countries is becoming evident in the field of energy as well. When Turkey was discussing whether it should become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the organization made Turkey the head of the Energy Club.
LNG and natural gas storage
In addition to natural gas carried through pipelines, Turkey is taking important steps in liquefied natural gas (LNG), which will contribute to the process of Turkey becoming an energy trade center and provide country and resource diversity for energy supply security in times of crisis. The goal is to increase the share of LNG in total consumption. Turkey is actualizing the first floating LNG terminal.
One of the pleasing issues in energy is the acceleration of the construction of terminals and facilities for the storage of natural gas which comes to the country both through pipelines and as LNG. Natural gas storage has become one of the most topical issues since Energy and Natural Resources Ministers Berat Albayrak took office.
This is really important, as natural gas-importing countries like France, Germany and Italy have a storage capacity of more than 20 percent of the annual natural gas consumption. Increasing Turkey's storage capacity, which has been neglected for years, is crucial for both supply security and strengthening Turkey's hand in times of problems with supplying countries.
Is energy the reason for external operations?
In addition to major projects that have been actualized, Turkey accelerated its efforts to reduce its dependency on foreign energy by 70 percent and thus to increase the share of domestic production in energy resources in this period.
All energy players and energy-rich countries, which are movers and shakers in this field, gathered, and all energy scenarios were discussed at the 23rd World Energy Congress. The fact that this event, which is the energy Olympics, was held in Istanbul shows we are undergoing a period where Turkey is identified with energy.
Therefore, it would not be a hyperbole to say that 2016 was year in which energy was discussed the most.
As a result, 2016 was a year in which asymmetric attacks on Turkey increased.
Energy is the most effective issue of political and economic power in this period. As an energy center, Turkey gaining strength among energy supplying and demanding countries, and being an indispensable player in energy is a complete challenge.
One of the biggest reasons why Turkey is exposed to such a heavy attack is that it has been mentioned with energy projects and it has accelerated the process of being an energy trade center in recent years.