Turkey's energy imports fall by 28.2% in 2016

The country aims to decrease its energy imports by focusing on the usage of domestic resources and renewables capacity

Ebru Sengül   | 01.02.2017
Turkey's energy imports fall by 28.2% in 2016



Turkey's energy imports fell by 28.2 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, according to TurkStat data Tuesday.

The data showed that Turkey's overall imports in 2016 amounted to $198.6 billion in comparison to $207.23 billion in 2015.

The country aims to increase the share of local resources such as coal and renewables in its energy mix and has recently speeded up steps towards this goal to decrease its energy import bill.

Therefore, the country's energy import bill decreased gradually. In 2015, with low oil prices, Turkey’s energy import bill totaled $37.8 billion, compared to $54.9 in 2014 and $55.91 in 2013.

Turkey, as an import-dependent country for energy, imports over 90 percent of its crude oil needs.

In the Turkish Development Ministry's recently released mid-term program for 2017-2019, Turkey's energy imports are predicted to further decrease.

Crude oil imports saw a decrease last year compared to 2015. Crude oil imports in 2016 realized 24.95 million tonnes as opposed to 25.06 million for 2015, showing a 0.4 percent decline.

Oguzhan Akyener, president of Turkey Energy Strategies & Politics Research Center (TESPAM) said that the first issue to be considered for understanding the decrease in Turkey's energy imports is the fall in global oil prices.

"Upon examination, it can be seen that the main reason behind this change [decrease in energy imports] is the variation in oil prices. In 2015, the oil prices were $50 per barrel on average while it was $42 per barrel in 2016. This means that Turkey, just because of this discrepancy in prices, saves up to 16 percent of its energy import bill in just one year," he explained.

Akyener said Turkey's recent policy towards increased usage of local coal and renewable resources as another reason for the fall in the energy export bill.

"Thanks to this policy, in 2016 the share of electricity production from local coal increased. Last year, the use of imported coal decreased while the rate of electricity production from renewables increased," he asserted.

In 2016, the country's total electricity generation was 269.8 kilowatt-hours, of which 131.8 kilowatt-hours, or almost half, came from domestic and renewable energy sources, according to Energy Exchange Istanbul (EXIST) data. The share of renewable energy rose from 44.3 percent to 48.9 percent in total generation.

Natural gas’s electricity production was 89.14 million kilowatt-hours, of which 46.76 million came from imported coal powered plants. Thus, the share of natural gas was 33 percent while imported coal's share was around 17.3 percent for 2016.

Along with these improvements, the opening of 158 power plants last year, 68.7 percent of which are using renewable sources, is expected to bear fruit in 2017 and decrease this bill even further, according to Akyener.

He said that the market expectation is that oil prices will boost after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) decision to cut production,

At November's meeting, OPEC members unanimously agreed to lower oil production by 1.2 million barrels per day. Eleven non-OPEC oil producers agreed to cut oil output to achieve market stability at the joint ministerial meeting in December.

"If we predict that oil prices in 2017 will increase to levels of nearly $55 to $66 per barrel, the decrease in Turkey's energy import bill might be reversed. While taking into account the variations of the exchange rate, it can be seen how necessary and correct Turkey's decision was on the increased usage of domestic resources," Akyener warned.

"Considering all of these factors, it is important for Turkey to take more different, fast and radical steps in the areas of oil and gas," he concluded.

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