Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız has expressed high hopes for oil exploration opportunities in South America’s top oil exporter, Venezuela, as he underlined that Turkey could not remain indifferent to a country that recently claimed to have overtaken Saudi Arabia in possessing the world’s largest oil reserves.
“Venezuela has offered Turkey two oil fields in return for construction projects from the Housing Development Administration of Turkey [TOKİ]. Venezuela needs 2 million houses and Turkey can build these houses via TOKİ subcontracting the houses step by step,” Yıldız said on Monday.
Accompanied by delegations from both TOKİ and the Turkish Red Crescent Society (Kızılay), Yıldız was in Caracas last week, marking the first ministerial level visit from Turkey to the country in the past nine years.
While in Caracas, Yıldız had talks with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in addition to Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro Moros. Moros paid a visit to Ankara in November when he first disclosed his country’s interest in bilateral energy cooperation, which would also involve TOKİ. “During our meeting, Mr. Chavez clearly showed that he is knowledgeable about Turkey’s growth and rising role in the global arena.
Opportunities and conditions for working together that I saw upon my arrival in Venezuela surpassed my expectations,” Yıldız explained during a breakfast meeting with members of the Ankara-based Diplomacy Correspondents’ Association (DMD). “We are a democratic and social [welfare] state,” Yıldız said, recalling that Venezuela had a socialist regime. “This composition offers many possibilities in the international arena,” Yıldız highlighted. Venezuela’s proposal for oil exploration in two fields should be considered a package that may involve building a Venezuelan oil refinery and an oil-for-fund program, the minister explained, noting that a technician delegation from Turkey will visit Venezuela on Feb. 10-11 to discuss the details of this package.
“We are currently at the discussion stage in a production-sharing model” concerning the two proposed oil fields, Yıldız said, adding that if Turkey were to invest in Venezuela, it would invest $2 billion. If competitive prices can be offered in Turkey’s internal market, importing oil products from Venezuela to Turkey is also on the agenda, Yıldız stated. If it happens, importation will come through the Turkish Petroleum International Company Ltd. (TPIC), established in 1988 as a subsidiary of the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) to operate in all branches of the oil industry. “Distance is a quantitative concept. What matters is simultaneously creating mutually shared values and reaching out to a neighbor who is far away,” Yıldız said, in an apparent reference to questions raised over the feasibility of energy cooperation with a country so far from Turkey.
TPAO is engaged in oil and natural gas exploration, particularly in Central Asian, North African and Middle Eastern countries. Turkey imports about 95 percent of the crude oil it consumes, and since 2007 it has sought to boost ties with Latin American countries to search for oil and gas.
Yıldız also said that Iran has offered Ankara four or five small oil fields, requiring $100-200 million of investment each, that Turkey will give to the private sector, recalling that Turkey’s talks concerning Iran’s giant South Pars gas project failed due to disagreements between Ankara and Tehran over “the production-sharing model.”
Turkey expects France to modify EU stance in event of nuclear dealAnkara “rightfully” expects a gesture from Paris concerning the former’s ongoing European Union membership process if French companies are willing to have a share in Turkey’s tender for the construction of a nuclear power plant, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız said on Monday.
“If negotiations on the nuclear power plant start, it is not possible for us to pretend nothing happened regarding the EU membership process,” Yıldız said, in apparent reference to the French leadership’s firm objection to Turkey’s full membership in the 27-nation bloc.
Turkey is discussing building a nuclear power plant exclusively with Japan, Yıldız said. Earlier this month, he announced that France had recently approached his ministry with an offer. At the time, Yıldız said that leading French energy companies Areva, Gaz de France (GDF) and Electricite de France (EDF) are interested in the proposed project.
As of Monday, Yıldız stressed that Japan had priority for the time being.