The Pros and Cons of the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) #Energy
Trans Anatolian Pipeline, or TANAP for short, is the name of the pipeline project that will transport natural gas from Azerbaijan’s Caspian Sea Shah Deniz gas field (2nd phase) and the fields to its south, over to Turkey in the tune of 6 billion cubic meters, and a further 10 billion cubic meters a year over to Europe.
TANAP was launched on June 12, 2018 with a pompous ceremony. TANAP will basically carry an annual volume of 6 billion cubic meters of Azeri natural gas to Turkey via South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP), and it will go on to form the Southern Natural Gas Corridor with the Trans-Atlantic Pipeline (TAP) to deliver 10 billion cubic meters of gas per annum to Europe. TANAP, like its predecessors, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and the Nabucco Project (which was never been implemented despite all the hoopla surrounding it) has been deemed the “Project of the Century.”
Let us begin with the data supplied to us at TANAP’s website, and go on from there to try and make an evaluation that is as objective and scientific as possible:
“TANAP starts from the Turkey-Georgia border, near the village of Turkgozu in Ardahan’s Posof Province, and goes through 20 provinces including Ardahan, Kars, Erzurum, Erzincan, Bayburt, Gumushane, Giresun, Sivas, Yozgat, Kirsehir, Kirikkale, Ankara, Eskisehir, Bilecik, Kutahya, Bursa, Balikesir, Canakkale, Tekirdag, and Edirne, and ends at Ipsala, at the Greek border. It connects over to TAP Natural Gas pipeline that will deliver gas over to Europe. There will be two points of exit within Turkey, one in Eskisehir, and one in Thrace for linking it to Turkey’s national natural gas distribution system.
TANAP is 1,850km long, including a 19 km undersea section at Marmara Sea. The pipeline has 7 compressor stations, 4 metering stations, 11 pigging stations, 49 block valve stations, and 2 gas departure stations to feed Turkey’s natural gas distribution network. The Project is jointly owned by Azerbaijan’s National Petroleum Company SOCAR (58%), BOTAS (30%) and BP (12%).”
The Share of Natural Gas in Turkey’s Energy Consumption
Currently, the share of natural gas in Turkey’s energy mix is 28.2 percent, almost all of which has to be imported.
The share of natural gas in electricity generation varies between 38% to 48% depending on the availability of other resources (e.g. the level of water in the dams feeding the hydroelectric plants) and the market conditions (daily price of electricity). To put it more plainly, Turkey is almost completely dependent on natural gas needed for a significant portion of both its energy and electricity demand. This dependency is a source of both economic risks as well as energy supply risks when we consider the countries we import it from (Especially Russia and Iran). In contrast, our renewable energy sources (solar, wind, geothermal, biofuel) are left lying idle which could well generate an additional 613 billion kilowatt-hours compared to our 2017 electricity consumption which was around 290 billion kW-hours.. Although it makes sense to purchase more natural gas from Azerbaijan, since it will marginally decrease our dependency to Russia, and it will provide investment and employment opportunities, we must not forget that an increasing aggregate dependency on natural gas within our energy and electricity mix will result in increased dependency for our energy consumption and rising the volume of imports.
Turkey’s External Dependency in Natural Gas
Turkey’s external dependency in the high share of natural gas in our energy and electricity demand is already a risk in itself, but there is also the political consequences to consider; particularly when we consider that we are 69% dependent on Russia and Iran (in total), two countries with whom we are not always politically aligned. We seem to be in good terms with Russia at the moment, but that may not last long -not only because we are a NATO member, but also because of our differences in description of terrorist organizations, Russia’s perception of foreign threats (like Al Nusra) and the risks associated with their increased presence in the Mediterranean. From that perspective, 6 billion cubic meters of natural gas to be imported from Azerbaijan (in addition to the 6.6 billion cubic meters we already buy from them) may be considered a positive development since it will decrease our 52% gas dependency on Russia (for the year 2017).
Still, as I stated many times earlier, we must focus on increasing the share of our indigenous energy resources within the energy mix rather than increasing the share of imported sources like natural gas, oil and coal.
TANAP and Employment
TANAP has created a significant opportunity for employment during its 1850 km of construction, which should be considered a positive impact. According to Turkish State Television, TANAP project has created 13,000 jobs. That 13k construction related jobs were created is encouraging, but we must not forget that once the project is completed (it almost is already completed), these positions will not be available anymore, and TANAP will only continue to employ around 350 people. To think that the 13k employment number is permanent for years to come is a misconception.
Is TANAP really the “Project of the Century?”
We have become accustomed to hearing various projects being named Project of the Century -such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline, Blue Stream, Turk Stream, not to mention the Nabucco Project which was never executed despite all the fanfare around it. As we all know, century means a hundred years. When we consider the fact that officials have named 4 -5 projects as Project of the Century, we must assume they are pretty confused about the definition of “a century.” “Project of THE CENTURY” should be the unique one realized within the last hundred years while we have 4 or 5 so-called projects realized or failed (Like NABUCCO) within almost in the last 15 years.
TANAP was completed ahead of schedule, which is a success story in itself, but compare it to some of the international projects I have written below, that are already underway, and you will agree that calling TANAP “the Project of the Century” is way, way off:
- NASA’s Beamed Laser Power Project,
- NASA’s Solar Surfing Project (which will allow for spacecraft to approach the sun 8 times closer than Solar Probe Plus which will be launched in 2018, by reflecting 99.9% of Sun rays),
- Skylon (A project by UK company Reaction Engines, is to create a jet that can fly into space. a hope of delivering 15 tons of equipment to space by the early 2020s. The unpiloted vehicle would be able to reach speeds of 30,000 kmph (19,000 mph), with an engine that can function as a jet in the atmosphere and switch to being a rocket in space.)
- Japan’s Space Elevator (new project expected 150 times taller than the Sky Tree and would require carbon nanotube technology that hasn’t been invented yet),
- Asteroid Mining Projects,
- Projects for Colonizing Mars (such as Elon Musk’s Space X, and Holland’s Mars One),
- Electricity procurement from the Sun via collectors installed in space (Mitsubishi’s already successful experiments in this field).
Are We Now an Energy Hub with TANAP?
There is a general tendency among the ruling party members to substitute English words in lieu of Turkish ones while they are addressing to the public in our native language Turkish. Calling a “commerce center” a “hub” instead of its Turkish version: “ticaret merkezi” is one such attempt. I guess the officials think that the average Turk will assume something extremely important is being done when it has an English name!
 TANAP web site; http://www.tanap.com/
 “Türkiye ve Avrupa’nın en büyük enerji projesi ‘TANAP’ açılıyor”, 12 Haziran 2018;
 “NASA’nın 12 Geleceğe Yönelik Uzay Projesi!”, 25 Nisan 2017;