A Turkish delegation dispatched to Iran this week after the country announced a temporary suspension of natural gas exports reportedly discovered that Tehran had allocated the supplies for domestic use, contrary to claims that technical failures were behind the sudden compression.
Officials from the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and the state-owned pipeline company BOTAŞ traveled to Tehran this week on a mission to try to reverse the shutdown that Iran says will last 10 days, citing technical problems.
The sudden stoppage of flows through the eastern province of Ağrı has already forced Turkey to impose restrictions to limit the use of gas and cut off the power supply to industrial sites.
Part of the delegation sent to Iran to defuse the deadly crisis returned to Turkey, while the other would have remained in Tehran to maintain contacts in order to solve the problem.
The team’s initial assessments would have determined that beyond a technical malfunction, Iran has chosen to use the gas to meet its growing domestic demand.
Iran is known to suffer from natural gas shortages during winters and summers when local consumption skyrockets.
The delegation reportedly encountered no major technical faults and found that harsh winter conditions forced Iran to cut off gas flow to Turkey.
Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez said on Monday that Iran did not meet certain technical conditions regarding the establishment of the natural gas contract with Turkey.
“We are making every possible effort to solve the problem. This is what we have conveyed to the other side (Iran) as well,” Dönmez said.
Ankara reportedly intends to seek international arbitration in case the matter turns into abuse by Tehran and remains unresolved in the coming days.
Iran claimed last Friday that gas flows to Turkey had resumed, but some Turkish officials said supplies were significantly below required volumes, while others suggested flows had not resumed. all.
A contract with Turkey obliges Iran to supply 28 million cubic meters (more than 988 million cubic feet) of gas per day, however, it would have sent around 1 to 2 million cubic meters of gas and at low pressure these last days.
It is pointed out that Iran continues to supply gas, albeit in small quantities, so that it can assert in the future that it meets its contractual obligations.
Ankara has also strongly denied allegations that there was a technical failure at a booster station in Turkey as well as claims that the shutdown resulted from its debt to Iran.
“We certainly don’t owe Iran anything. Nor was such a statement made by the opposing side,” Dönmez said.
The minister said Turkey is supplied with the same resources as Europe, pointing out that the continent has also suffered from similar problems and supply cuts which have triggered huge price hikes.
“We have renewed all of our contracts to ensure that our households are not left without gas in these cold winter conditions, and we have filled the shortages by making purchases on the spot market,” noted Dönmez, also pointing out that all entry points, with the exception of Iran, are functioning. at full capacity.
Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank said the sudden halt in gas shipments by a major supplier like Iran had caused problems.
But he said the manufacturing sector should be able to withstand the drop in production due to power cuts.
“The industrial sector is strong enough to overcome this period which will last a few days,” Varank said. “We will try to get through this together. We know there will be production losses at this point,” he added.
Iran made it known that there had been a gas leak, according to Dönmez, who said Turkey had urged Iran to continue gas exports and postpone repair operations. Yet Iran reportedly said it had no choice but to reduce pressure and gas exports.
The limited supply, together with the high demand for domestic gas use due to colder than normal weather, forced BOTAŞ to order gas-fired power plants to reduce gas consumption by 40% and the government to impose power cuts in organized industrial zones.
Compounding the gas problems, the country’s natural gas consumption hit a record high on January 19, due to recent harsh winter conditions and steady snowfall in many provinces across the country.
The government is committed to ensuring that households will not be affected by blackouts and gas supply restrictions.
Dönmez said some of the industrialists opted to temporarily halt production during the 10-day period instead of operating at half capacity.
Turkey depends almost entirely on imported gas from Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran. According to the latest official data, Iran alone supplied 16% of Turkey’s natural gas needs in the first 10 months of 2021.
Dönmez said contacts with Iran were continuing at the ministerial level, also recalling President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s call over the weekend with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi.
During the phone conversation, Erdoğan told Raisi that Turkey considers its neighbor a “reliable source of energy”, according to Iranian media. No other details were given.
Dönmez said Erdoğan asked for “sensitivity to the issue”.