The changing dynamics in world energy and Turkey: Towards Cleaner and Smarter Energy



Today’s Zaman  


Mehmet Öğütçü [1]  





We are in the midst of tectonic changes in world financial system, trading and investment, geopolitics and technology. Global energy system is also going through a fundamental transformation, affecting all countries. The institutions, markets and policies that were set up after the 1973 Arab embargo can no longer meet the needs of the changing dynamics and parameters in world energy and geopolitics. Hence, we need to better understand the current and anticipated changes in energy and prepare ourselves for the new challenges and opportunities presented by the new world.

Myriad trends indicate that the current system, in a business-as-usual future, far from being sustainable: rising demand over the long term, inaccessible supplies, price volatility, inadequate investment, geopolitical tensions, and climate change. Modern economies need ever increasing amounts of oil, gas and other fuels to run their economies. As globalisation lifts millions out of poverty, the demand for energy worldwide will continue to grow, and we risk ending up with a volatile, “beggar thy neighbour” process of competition between countries to control sources of supply, especially in the developing countries.

To avoid such a dangerous situation, we need a system of international co-operation that encourages all players to share energy and energy saving technology and allows markets to function optimally.

In this evolving. game-changing developments in world energy, Turkey has emerged as an important actor to reckon with as consumer, transit, investor, regional hub and security provider. Not only a significant consumer in its own, Turkey is also geographically close to 72 percent of the world’s proven oil and gas resources and thus a natural energy bridge between major oil producing areas in Russia, the Caspian Sea basin region and the Middle East on the one hand, and European consumer markets on the other hand.

The potential for Turkey to transit Caspian oil and gas, the possibility for Kazakh and Turkmen energy resources to be added to the Baku-Erzurum/Nabucco route as well as the possibility of a Bosphorous bypass (Samsun-Ceyhan) pipeline and a natural gas pipeline to be extended to Israel and the Middle East are all adding to the milieu of potential projects that are destined to enhance the geostrategic weight of this country.

In this new landscape, Turks are acting increasingly in pursuit of their own self-interest, rather than sheepishly following the dictates from Washington or Brussels. This is often interpreted as Turkey’s foreign policy orientation shifting away from traditional alliances with the EU and the US and toward enhancing relations with new partners to the north, east and south of the country. Such criticisms result from the lack of faith in Turkey’s transformative power.

As pivotally located as it is, Turkey will continue to be an important partner to Western, Russian, Caucasian and Middle Eastern energy and foreign policy initiatives. Its partnership with the US, its prospective membership of the EU, its strong ties to Eurasia and the Middle

East, make Turkey an irreplaceable partner on all regional energy and foreign policy matters. The paper concludes with a number of policy recommendations for government and business leaders in promoting further co-operation and partnership, rather than fanning confrontation in search for energy security for all players.

[1] Öğütçü is a Mülkiye, London School of Economics and Collège d’Europe graduate, a former Turkish diplomat, a senior International Energy Agency executive, and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Global Forum chairman. He also co-chairs Forum Istanbul, dubbed as “Turkey’s Davos”. Currently he works as an executive of a major multinational energy corporation, based in London, teaches at London School of Economics, Dundee University and Reading University, and serves in several advisory roles. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of any organisation he is associated with.


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