Turkey’s natural gas supply fails temporarily; Israel discovers more offshore gas fields

Map of Mediterranean gas fields

Map of Mediterranean gas fields

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.

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9 Responses to Turkey’s natural gas supply fails temporarily; Israel discovers more offshore gas fields

  1. Pingback: » Pre-whatever whatever - Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion

  2. Roxymuzak says:

    Someone once said that Moses led the Jews around the desert for 40 years and then settled them in the only place in the ME that didn’t have any oil……
    But it appears that they now have vast natural resources for energy. Mazel Tov to them, and if it frees Israeli Jews and Arabs from the tyranny of their unstable neighbours, as you point out, then we’ll drink to that as well.

    • anneinpt says:

      Lechaim! We can drink a toast with some of your warm Guinness. 🙂

      • Roxymuzak says:

        Anne, – it ain’t warm as I keep telling you.Ask Leopold Bloom, the fictional Jew in Joyce’s Ulysses. His task was to find his way across Dublin, the city that never sweeps, without passing a pub.

        Now those of you who are not of Hibernian stock may ask yourself how can you cross the most densely pub-populated capitals in our solar galaxy without passing a pub?

        It’s a trick question.

        You don’t pass the pub – you go in and have a pint. And that is why the famous Mr Bloom arrived on the other side of Dublin “four sheets to the wind” from liquid poetry, or Guinness if you like.

  3. Andrea says:

    In a reasonable world your utopia should be common sense. We have two western like economies ( in a very different way each other ) – Turkey and Israel – sharing to a certain extent important allies ( EU and USA) , with decades of mutual partnership in startegic sectors and most of all with access to same market ( again EU and some ME countries ). Economic perspectives are excellent for Israel and rather good for Turkey. Some predictions put Turkey at second place behind Germany among Europeans ( yes I say Europeans ) economies by 2050 and Israeli income pro capite is higher than many other European countries. Both of them are struggling to sort out their dependency on foreign energy markets supplying and if this target will be achieved thanks to latest discoveries, then eastern part of Mediterranean Sea will tremendously improve over the years to come.
    So far I can see only profitable and realistic opportunities and not utopia –
    Problems ariss when we come to the point concerning the balance between these two powers in pectore. They could co-opearate ( like France and Germany after two world wars ) compensating their weakest points ( Turkey has an excess oo supply on labour market, Israel needs workers according to apparent recent improvement or Third world immigration ) or despeartely struggle each other for military and economical supremacy in that area.
    Of course religion will be as usual a good reason to fight for – unfortunately this is the only contribution can be given in Middle East by such valuable religious assets.
    I would add that I hardly see the contenders on the same level . I find Turkey recent positions inaccessible to my understanding – with the possible exception that Turkey’s chances to overhelm any other nations in that area ( not only Israel but Iran and Arab countries combined) are higher than these appear. In this case Erdogan is palying an hazourdius game to win it all.
    In any case any conflict ( or hard competition ) between Turkey and Israel would be different from any other conflict we have seen so far in Middle East. It would be or it is in fact a struggle between two emerging powers – looking like conflict between two moderns countries on periphery of Europe . Nothing to see with Iran or Arab chronic retard on almost everything .

    • anneinpt says:

      I quite agree with your analysis Andrea. It all seems so stupid and pointless. If Israel and Turkey could unite and agree on strategic and energy cooperation, what a positive transformation could happen in the Eastern Mediterranean!

      But as you say, Turkey under Erdogan has embarked on a strange and dangerous journey and is ruining the future for everyone, including Turkey itself.

      I still think that Israel is really collateral damage rather than the primary target of Turkey in its struggle for hegemony in the Arab world.

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