DAEGU, South Korea: Turkey will take at least the same 5 million tons (100,000 barrel per day) of Iranian crude in 2014 that it is taking this year, as any more cuts in the volumes from Iran would “threaten” its economy, the Turkish energy minister said Thursday.
Turkey is also importing 10 billion cubic meters of gas a year from Iran and would buy more if it were available, Taner Yildiz said in a briefing during the World Energy Congress in South Korea.
The European Union and the United States believe Iran is developing nuclear weapons, while Tehran says its program is for power generation. Western sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program have cut its oil exports in half from pre-2012 levels and cost it billions of dollars a month in lost revenue.
“Now we are importing about 5 million tons and if we [reduce more] than that, then that would threaten our energy supply security,” Yildiz said.
Turkey’s energy demand doubled in the last 10 years and will double again in the next 10, he said.
Turkey is also ready to take more Iraqi gas to help meet its energy needs if Iraq increases its gas output, he said.
The United States in June renewed six-month waivers on Iran sanctions for Turkey and eight other economies in exchange for their agreeing to reduce purchases of oil from Iran.
This week six world powers and Iran held two days of nuclear negotiations that the United States described as the most serious and candid to date. Western diplomats said Tehran hinted it was ready to scale back sensitive atomic activities to secure sanctions relief.
Asked if there will be any delay in Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, the minister said there would be none, as additional upgrading for safety has been completed.
He added that a planned second plant on the Black Sea also could be built as scheduled for startup in 2023.
Earlier this month a source close to Turkey’s nuclear plans said the first plant, being built by Russia’s Rosatom, was likely to be delayed by at least a year due to bureaucratic hurdles that hamper the $20 billion, 4,800 megawatt project.
Turkey will host the next World Energy Congress in 2016.