CORRECTS HEADLINE, FIRST AND SECOND PARAGRAPH
By Ebru Sengul
ANKARA (AA) – The natural gas trade between Turkey and Iran will continue as part of a long-term bilateral contract set to run until 2026, Turkey's Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez said on Wednesday.
Speaking to news channel A Haber, Donmez said Turkey's natural gas trade with Iran is legitimate and in accordance with a signed contract with an expiry in 2026.
"We import nearly 9.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year from Iran. We do not have the option of leaving Turkish citizens without electricity or in the cold. Therefore, our trade will continue according to the contract," he asserted.
The first round of the U.S. pre-nuclear deal sanctions on Iran, largely targeting the country’s banking sector, came into effect early Tuesday.
The sanctions target Tehran's acquisition of U.S. dollars, precious metals trade, transactions related to Iran's rial currency, activities related to Iran's sovereign debt, and the country's automotive sector.
Donmez described the sanctions as one-sided as they are based on the U.S. government's imposition on Iran.
"In fact, the EU is also very uncomfortable [about the sanctions]. We are conducting legitimate trade [with Iran]. This is also important in terms of supply security. We also have a neighborly partnership with Iran. I am of the opinion that this [Turkey's trade with Iran] should be evaluated within this framework," he explained.
Turkey and the U.S. are also experiencing rocky relations after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul for not releasing American Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson, who faces terrorism charges in Turkey.
On Aug. 8, a Turkish delegation led by a Foreign Ministry aide will visit Washington where they are expected to discuss recent tensions between the two NATO allies.
Donmez said the delegation plans to discuss the sanctions on Iran among other issues between the two countries.
"I am optimistic about this dialogue. I believe we will be able to reach a positive outcome," he asserted.
– Third nuclear plant to be constructed in Thrace
Donmez also confirmed construction of a third nuclear power plant is planned in the northwestern Thrace region.
"In that project, we will cooperate with China. We have not decided on the exact location of this plant. In fact, there are approximately 28-30 criteria that need to be met in the requirements to construct the plant," he explained.
However, he hinted that the northern part of Turkey's Marmara region, an area with the highest energy density in Turkey, would be considered.
"We believe this region is the most appropriate location [for the third plant] and meets most of the criteria we are looking for. We also aim to enlarge nuclear know-how and technology in Turkey, and this project will help that aim," he asserted.
– YEKA projects to continue
Turkey's Renewable Energy Resource Zones (YEKA) tenders will continue in 2018, particularly in solar and wind energy, Donmez said.
"In the last two years, Turkey opened two big tenders in wind and solar. In solar, there will be a $1.4 billion investment in Konya, where the solar energy potential is extremely high," he said.
The YEKA project launched in Karapinar in the Konya province last year will enable the country to have 1,000 megawatts of capacity by 2020.
"We say to investors that when they invest in Turkey, they should not only consider the opportunities in Turkey but also in the neighboring countries that they can also access," he stressed.
The process has already begun for offshore wind energy projects in Turkey, he explained.
"The capacity of offshore wind is much higher than onshore wind. We will receive bids in October and in terms of location, Marmara and the north Aegean come to the forefront as the most productive areas," he added.
On June 21, Turkey announced the launch of a tender for a 1,200-megawatt (MW) offshore wind plant project, with a ceiling price set at $8 per megawatt-hour. The deadline for bid submissions is Oct. 23.