With Ukraine and the Middle East currently engulfed in turmoil, Turkey is trying to play a new energy-export card and, in the process, strengthen its position as a regional energy hub.
The Turkish government has always sought to exploit Turkey’s geographic position between the energy-rich countries of the Caspian Sea region and Middle East, and those of energy-hungry Europe. But a combination of prohibitive costs and Kremlin lobbying has kept the European Union firmly dependent on Russian oil and gas.
Now, the deepening crisis in Ukraine, a key transit state for Russian energy, is providing an incentive for the development of a new export option, namely tapping into reserves located in Kurdish-controlled areas of Iraq, an area that borders southeastern Turkey. “One way to effectively discipline Russia is to create an alternative to the Gazprom monopoly on most of Europe’s gas services,” pointed out Atilla Yeşilada, an analyst for Global Source Partners, a risk-assessment group for emerging markets, including Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. “And that could lead to the accelerating of the building of the Iraqi Kurdish pipelines to Turkey.”
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Dorian Jones is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.