Turkey’s Energy: Where Should We Be Heading?

The world’s wheels are not turning without energy. The lack of it, price fluctuations or decrease in subsidies could cause the downfall of governments. Increased energy-related carbon emissions would heat further our planet. Competition over energy resources, border conflicts, pipeline routes, entrance and exit into/from exclusive economic zones led in the past to hot confrontations and geopolitical tensions between neighboring countries. It will undoubtedly continue to do so in the Caspian, South China Sea, Straits of Hurmuz, Arctic, Africa and Latin America. 

Governments – whose “weak spot” or “Achilles’ Heel” is energy - cannot take decisions on their economy, foreign policy, security and investment independently. Energy, geopolitics and investment cannot be treated in isolation from one another.

The same applies to Turkey and its energy policy. Turkey depends heavily on energy imports (i.e. 98 percent in natural gas and 93 percent in oil as well as in considerable degree of dependence in coal supply, renewables and nuclear technology). Turkey has high ambitions for the future, aspiring to become one of the world’s top 10 economies until 2023 (which is unlikely to occur now, but the ambition remains, even to a later date); it has a young and increasingly better educated, mobilised population; its middle-class is beefing up and the urban transformation has gained incredible speed – all these generate stronger energy demand, much above the world average. 

Therefore, energy is not simply a commercial commodity for Turkey to fuel its ever-demanding machines of the economy but it represents a vital national security matter, linked inextricably to the global system. It is not only the energy supply security that Turkey strives to achieve from multiple sources and fuels, but also attraction of massive international capital into major energy and associated infrastructure projects/deals that top its national agenda. 

CEO, Global Resources Partnership (UK); Executive Chair, The Bosphorus Energy Club; and board member of Genel Energy plc. A graduate of Mulkiye, College d’Europe and London School of Economics, he is a former diplomat, advisor to the late Prime Minister Turgut Ozal, IEA and OECD principal administrator and BG Group director. He can be reached through: