ANKARA: Global oil prices have risen to unsustainable levels and need to fall by around $10 a barrel for Turkey’s oil demand to keep growing, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said yesterday.
“At the moment we see Turkish oil demand continuing but for it to keep going, the oil price has to fall. This price is not sustainable ... there has to be a fall of around $10 a barrel,” Yildiz said.
Brent crude oil rose nearly 3 percent last week, the biggest weekly gain since early July, on worries that a strike by Western forces against Syria would rattle the Middle East and disrupt oil exports when markets are already coping with the loss of supplies from Libya and Sudan.
Turkey is almost completely dependent on imports for its energy needs and costly oil and gas purchases have been a major factor behind its ballooning current account deficit, running at more than 7 percent of national output.
Yildiz said last week the rise in oil prices had increased Turkey’s energy bill by $300m, but he stopped short of making a prediction for the whole year.
“Developments on Syria and Egypt are key issues but I don’t think predictions right now will be correct,” he said.
Yildiz also said Turkey is talking to China about a potential partnership in a lignite power project delayed by its initial partner Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. “Chinese firms are more at the forefront here. I see that they make an effort and are keen,” Yildiz said.
Abu Dhabi’s state-owned oil explorer and power supplier agreed in January to build several power plants to be fuelled by lignite coal reserves in Turkey’s Afsin-Elbistan region, but earlier this week it announced the project was delayed.
Turkish energy industry sources said the company was planning to pull out of the project.
Turkey has expressed determination to go ahead with the project and is already in talks with South Korea as well.
The Afsin-Elbistan region holds about 4.4bn tonnes of lignite, around 40 percent of Turkey’s total reserves, and could provide up to 8,000 megawatts of power production capacity in southeast Turkey, if the coal potential is fully exploited, according to the Turkish energy ministry.