Turkey’s Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is set to visit Israel by the end of this year to conclude an agreement to construct a natural gas pipeline between the two countries. It is a sign that Ankara and Tel Aviv are taking further steps towards the normalisation of relations.
“Hopefully, Mr. Albayrak will pay a visit to Israel this year in 2017, which will help us accelerate and try to conclude this agreement,” Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said on July 12 at the World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul after meeting Albayrak, according to AFP. No exact date has been fixed but the visit would take place in coming months, he added.
“We want to build a pipeline in order to be able to export natural gas from Israel to Turkey…The Israeli gas could be further delivered to Europe and to the Balkans through Turkey," Steinitz said.
Israel’s Leviathan field, discovered in 2009, holds an estimated 613 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas with 39.4 million barrels of condensates, according to Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu. The field is set to begin production in the fourth quarter of 2019.
“It was evaluated that more than another 2,200 billion cubic meters of natural gas have yet to be discovered in the Leviathan field”, Steinitz said.
Israel is also working with Cyprus on a gas pipeline project. When asked if this project could create tension with Turkey, the Israeli minister said that: “Hopefully this region will find its way in the future to cooperate and to establish good relations with all countries.”
“We are working with the governments of Italy, Greece and Southern Cyprus on a cross-Mediterranean pipeline. I do not see any collusion here. I think these are very important projects for all sides and I do not want to make priorities. We are making efforts to advance these important energy projects,” Anadolu quoted Steinitz as saying.
Ties between Ankara and Tel Aviv soured in 2010 when Israel raided a Turkish aid vessel heading for the Gaza Strip and 10 Turkish citizens were killed. Following the raid, Turkey cut its diplomatic relations with Israel. As part of the normalisation process, Israel paid $20mn last month in compensation to Turkey.
Turkey is promoting itself as an energy transit state. In December 2014, Ankara and Moscow signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction of the €11.4bn Turkish Stream to bring Russian gas to a Turkish gas hub partly for further distribution to Europe.
The other major project central to the transit ambition is TANAP (the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline). The 1,850km pipeline, to stretch from Turkey's border with Georgia to Greece, should carry 16bn cubic metres (cm) of gas a year by mid-2018 from Azerbaijan's giant Shah Deniz II gas field development project in the Caspian Sea.
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