Turkey: Energy Minister On Caspian Gas To Europe

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Classified By: AMBASSADOR ROSS WILSON FOR REASONS 1.4 (B,D)

1. (C) Summary. Meeting on the margins of
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline inauguration ceremonies in
Istanbul on July 12, Deputy Secretary of Energy Clay Sell and
Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler reviewed Turkish-U.S.
cooperation in helping Europe diversify its natural gas
supplies as well as cooperation in Turkey’s domestic energy
sector. Guler highlighted his worry that time was working
against efforts to provide Europe with sources of gas as
alternatives to Russia. Noting that winter is coming, he
feared that Russia would again pressure and threaten Turkey
and other countries to enter into long-term arrangements that
could preclude development of Caspian gas supplies from
Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, or Turkmenistan. He doubted
Azerbaijani and BP claims that large amounts of newly found
Azeri gas could be made available quickly, and therefore
urged that efforts be made with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan
as well. Sell and Guler agreed that there were good
opportunities for U.S.-Turkey cooperation on energy
efficiency as well as to develop alternative sources of
energy in Turkey, including nuclear, hydrogen, wind, and
solar, as well as cooperation on clean coal technologies.
Other participants in the meeting included Ambassador, EB A/S
Dan Sullivan, SCA PDAS Steven Mann, and DOE, State and
Embassy Staff, as well as Turkish Energy Ministry staff and
MFA Energy expert Mithat Rende. End Summary.

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New Sources of Gas for Europe
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¶2. (C) Deputy Secretary Sell extended the greetings of the
President and Secretary Bodman and congratulated the Minister
on the opening of the BTC pipeline. He asked for the
Minister’s thinking on next steps needed to solidify Turkey’s
role as an energy hub, especially for gas. Minister Guler
stressed that time was of the essence in providing Europe
with access to new sources of natural gas and noted that work
on the Turkey-Greece Interconnector (TGI) project was well
underway. Guler said he doubted claims by Azerbaijan and BP
that sufficient gas reserves were available in Azerbaijan to
provide large volumes to Europe. Specifically, he found
unconvincing their claims that 50 bcm per year could be
available for export. At the same time, some European
countries and companies, particularly Austria, are ignoring
their own principles and those of the Energy Charger by
seeking Iranian gas for the Nabucco project. Given these
alternatives, Guler said he believes that Kazakh and Turkmen
gas exports to Europe via Turkey must also be developed.

¶3. (C) Guler reiterated that timing was critical. He is
especially concerned about the upcoming winter and pressure
that could be applied by Russia on consumers like Turkey,
Georgia, Greece and Italy as well as Azerbaijan, which is
still a gas importer. Gazprom, Guler said, is making
progress pressuring European countries and is “signing new
contracts every week.” Recalling the impact of the early
2006 shut off of gas to Ukraine and the shortages that had
caused in Turkey, Guler said, “I don’t want to face that
situation again.” Ambassador Wilson pointed out that that
was precisely why we were very interested in working quickly
and aggressively with Turkey and Azerbaijan to get larger
volumes of Azerbaijani gas to Turkey and to Europe.
Otherwise Russia could lock-in long term supply contracts
that would lock-out Azerbaijani gas.

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Turkey’s Nuclear and Alternative Energy Plans
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¶4. (C) Sell said he was encouraged by Turkey’s interest in
developing nuclear electricity generation capacity. He said
the United States was supportive of this and ready to help

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Turkey achieve its goal. This was consistent with the
President’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). Sell
hoped that U.S. companies, which have the most advanced
technologies, would be welcome. Guler noted that developing
nuclear generating capacity was needed to meet growing energy
needs and reduce dependence on gas imports. He said the
private sector would make the investments in nuclear
generation. He said Turkey also hoped to encourage
investment in other nuclear applications, such as in medicine
and agriculture. Noting that Turkey was an agricultural
country and held 72% of global boron reserves, Guler said
Turkey was interested in other areas of energy cooperation
with the United States, including biomass and hydrogen. He
is also interested in working with the United States on clean
coal generation technology, as he had discussed with
Secretary Bodman in February.

SIPDIS

¶5. (C) Guler favorably described oil and gas exploration by
U.S. companies on the Black Sea coast and in southeastern
Turkey. In response to Sell’s question about “Bosphorus
bypass” pipelines, Guler said that the Turkish government was
backing the Samsun-Ceyhan project, and described the
potential of Ceyhan as a regional energy oil and gas center.
In addition to Samsun-Ceyhan, he is interested in working
with the United States on bringing Iraqi gas to Ceyhan along
the existing right of way of the Kirkuk-Yumurtalik pipeline
and building an LNG facility in Ceyhan to export Iraqi gas.
Ambassador reminded the Minister that U.S. companies
continued to be interested in the “protocol” hydropower
projects agreed to in the late 1990s, and said that moving
forward on them would send a good signal to investors. Guler
said that Turkey had improved its laws to encourage foreign
investment in the sector and would continue doing so.

¶6. (U) This cable has been cleared by DOE.