Turkey and Israel are set to discuss multiple pipeline projects that will transport energy resources such as natural gas, oil and electricity as well as water.
The Turkish energy minister will visit Israel on Dec. 13, when the two countries are expected to push the button for feasibility studies.
Israel intends to buy Russian natural gas via Turkey and has been holding talks with Russia's gas exporter Gazprom.
Energy Minister Hilmi Güler and his Israeli counterpart will not only talk about the construction of a pipeline running under the Mediterranean to transport Russian natural gas to Israel but will also discuss a multiple pipeline scheme for the transfer of oil, electricity and water.
Israel's plans to buy water from Turkey's Manavgat River facilities were abandoned with the consent of Ankara. The project to sell water to Israel had been on the agenda since the beginning of the 1990s. The construction of facilities on the Manavgat River, which flows to the Mediterranean, was terminated at the end of the 1990s. The two countries were never able to go ahead with a deal, since the cost of water transport dissuaded the Israeli side from buying the water.
A green light from Turkey and Israel on the construction of a pipeline might also be an important step to pave the way towards a strategic partnership on energy between Turkey and Russia. The latter has proposed that Turkey be a strategic transit country for its exports. The proposal was first voiced by Russian President Vladimir Putin during an official visit to Turkey in 2004. It was repeated during President Sezer's visit to Moscow last June.
Russia is going through serious problems with Ukraine, a country through which 80 percent of total Russian exports are transported. Russia's natural gas flow to Europe was at risk last year because of a crisis over the pricing of oil. Russia, with thoughts of bypassing Ukraine, is now making a strategic transit country proposal to Turkey
. In this context, under existing circumstances, the capacity of the Blue Stream pipeline, which passes beneath the Black Sea, could be increased, or a parallel second pipeline could be built. According to Russian press, Gazprom and Italian ENI, which built the Blue Stream pipeline, have reached an agreement to build Blue Stream 2. Russia intends to sell its natural gas to Italy and other European countries though Blue Stream 2, and it is also negotiating with Israel to strike a deal on natural gas.
Turkey, however, has not officially responded to Russia's proposal to become a strategic transit country
. Turkey on one hand is trying to secure its energy demand in the most economic and safe way and on the other hand wants to develop into a strategic energy transfer point. As a giant energy producer, Russia should be the country Turkey has to pay the most attention to while forming its energy strategy. A major dilemma is facing Turkey regarding Russia. Increasing energy cooperation with its neighbor in the north will lead to more dependency in the energy field. Or focusing on other projects to diversify its energy resources might risk cooperation with Russia.
Problems with Iranian and Azerbaijani natural gas supplies force Turkey to increase cooperation with Russia in the short term. The quality of Iranian natural gas is low. The amount of Azerbaijani natural gas that will flow from the pipeline under construction cannot be determined accurately. Trying to keep all its options open, Ankara is not responding to Russia either negatively or positively.
A natural gas pipeline from Turkey to Israel can carry Azeri natural gas just as well as Russian natural gas. With that in mind, Israel is negotiating with Azerbaijan as well as with Russia.
Turkish Daily News