Two parallel news items appeared in the last couple of days, and it occurs to me that if only the current political constellation in the Middle East were somewhat different, Israel could come to the rescue of Turkey.
Today’s Zaman (a Turkish news site) reports that Turkey’s natural gas supply from Azerbaijan suffered from a technical fault that caused a temporary shortage.
The flow of natural gas to Turkey from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field, the largest in the Caucasian country, via the South Caucasus gas pipeline, stopped on Tuesday, raising fears among Turks at a time when the demand for the natural gas is rising and gas supply from major providers such as Iran is declining.
The interruption of natural gas was the result of a technical issue and will be quickly solved, said Kenan Yavuz, CEO of the energy consortium Socar-Turcas, jointly operated by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and Turkey’s Turcas, shortly after the news hit online media outlets. “It will be fixed by the midnight [on Tuesday] or Wednesday at the latest,” he said.
Adding to Turkey’s fuel woes, its gas supply from Iran also suffered a failure:
There is also an issue with natural gas coming from Iran because of a compressor problem,” Yıldız also said Tuesday. He joined Yavuz in announcing that a solution will be quickly found for the Azeri gas flow problem, noting that it will resume by 5 a.m. (GMT +2) on Wednesday morning. He did not, however, elaborate on the issue in Iran. He only said that Iran has sent less gas to Turkey as a result of a technical problem there.
The fuel shortage is being exacerbated by a disagreement with Iran over Iran’s exorbitant pricing:
Turkey and Iran are currently at odds over the price of natural gas. Last month Turkey applied for arbitration at the International Chamber of Commerce in Switzerland as part of this dispute. Of the natural gas purchased by Turkey, Iran charges the most. Turkey currently buys one cubic meter of Azeri gas for $330 and pays Russia $400 for the same amount. Iran, however, sells its gas to Turkey for $505 for each cubic meter, which increases Turkey’s natural gas bill by $800 million annually. The average price of one cubic meter of natural gas is $400 in international markets. Turkey wants Iran to bring the price down to international levels.
Perhaps Turkey should approach Israel who, if the price is right, might be persuaded to sell their newly discovered natural gas to Turkey. Another newly discovered offshore gas field was announced on Sunday, giving a well-needed boost to Israel’s business and energy tycoon Yitzchak Tshuva:
The fledgling Israeli natural-gas industry could get another boost from a newly discovered natural gas reservoir off the Israeli coast. Avner Oil and Exploration LP (Avner) and Delek Group Ltd, owned in part by Israeli real estate and energy mogul Yitzhak Tshuva, announced Sunday that the Tanin-1 (“Crocodile”) field off the Israeli coast may contain significant quantities of natural gas.
The announcement was made possible after Noble Energy, which operates the site along with other gas fields in Israeli waters, found traces of natural gas 5.5 km (3.41 km) beneath the seabed. The discovery is in keeping with the geological survey conducted in August that suggested a 62 percent chance of discovering gas on the order of 1.2 trillion cubic feet. For Tshuva, who has recently struggled to repay bondholders in the wake of the global financial crisis and its adverse effect on his investments, the news is a much-needed boost.
The gas at Tanin-1 appears to be on a lesser scale than at the Tamar (“Date”) or Leviathan (“Whale”) gas drilling sites to its northwest, both of which are also operated by Noble Energy in partnership with Tshuva. But it still exceeds the volume in the Yam Tethys (Tethys Sea) fields, which are already producing commercial-grade gas for Israeli companies, including several Israeli power plants. The volume of gas at Tamar and Leviathan is estimated at eight trillion cubic feet and 17 trillion cubic feet, respectively, but these fields have yet to be fully developed for continuous production.
As has been pointed out many times before, Israel’s natural gas fields would give it desperately needed energy independence, freeing it from the tyranny of unstable Arab regimes and terrorists who blow up the Egyptian oil pipeline time and time again, as happened once more this past weekend:
Meanwhile, on Sunday, a natural gas pipeline running from Egypt to Israel and Jordan and operated by the joint Israeli-Egyptian enterprise East Mediterranean Gas Co. (EMG) was bombed for the twelfth time. The attack was carried out early Sunday morning, some 3 km (1.8 miles) south of an El-Arish, presumably by pro-Islamic elements opposed to the peace treaty with Israel.
Just imagine! Israel could be self-sufficient in its own energy supply and could help countries like Turkey free themselves from their similar dependence on enemy regimes. What a utopian vision.