Yildiz: Turkey to hold on to TANAP, Nabucco pipeline shares
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz on Wednesday stressed the importance of Ankara's stake in two Caspian gas pipelines, telling the press that it would ensure the country's role as an energy corridor for Europe. The minister said that Turkey's state oil firms, the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) and the Turkish Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ), would maintain their existing 20 percent stake in the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline project (TANAP), words which come amid a selloff of some of the remaining 80 percent of shares by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR). Various international news outlets this month reported that SOCAR would sell a 29 percent stake in the field to Norwegian oil firm Statoil, as well as international oil giants BP and Total. "We plan to keep the second largest stake in the TANAP project," Yildiz said during the press conference. The shakeup in ownership in the TANAP pipeline also comes as a major stakeholder dropped out of the parallel Nabucco pipeline on Sunday. This week German utility company RWE sold its stake in Nabucco, turning over its 17 percent share of the project to Austrian energy company OMV. Yildiz said that Ankara's oil companies would also maintain their existing stakes in that project, which is shared with firms in Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. The two pipelines, which link Turkey and Europe to large reserves of natural gas in the Caucasus, are considered essential for reducing the dominance of Russia in Turkey and Europe's gas trade. The minister has also said the pipelines will make energy-poor Turkey into an energy hub for greater Europe. "Turkey will be both the country benefitting the most from this and the country helping other nations the most," he said. TANAP, which is expected to be completed in 2018, is projected to have a capacity of around 16 billion cubic meters a year. Ankara says around 6 billion will be consumed by Turkey, while the rest will be sent to Europe. Yildiz also said more domestic energy reserves might be tapped in Turkey's Southeast should Ankara successfully conclude its three-decade-long conflict with Kurdish terrorists. "Energy investment will be one of the things most radically changed by the settlement process [with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)]," the minister told a gathering of journalists on Wednesday, highlighting the reserves of natural gas and shale gas revealed by government-funded surveys of the country's far Southeast. "Hopefully these reserves will be better explored if, God willing, the settlement process is successful," he added, referring to talks aimed at a disarmament and withdrawal of the terrorist PKK group.