Turkish PM visits energy partner Azerbaijan

ANKARA - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pays his first post-election visit to close energy partner Azerbaijan on Friday, accompanied by Energy Minister Taner Yildiz.

The two have met their Azerbaijani counterparts, as well as President Ilham Aliyev. Regional issues of common interest, including energy were expected to dominate their agenda.

Turkey imports 6.6 billion of its 47 billion cubic meter natural gas demand annually from Azerbaijan via the Baku-Tblisi- Erzurum natural gas pipeline. The Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline carries 1.2 million barrels of oil per day.

Headed by the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO), Turkish firms' investments account for around US$3 billion, while Azerbaijan aims to invest US$15 billion in the Turkish energy sector up to 2018.

Currently, the Azerbaijani national oil company SOCAR is building Star Refinery in Izmir on the Aegean coast, which costs around US$5.5 billion.

- TANAP's importance raises as Europe seeks to diversify energy sources

Ongoing preparations to build the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline Project (TANAP), the scheme to deliver Azerbaijani gas to Europe via Turkey, is to be completed by 2019 and will cost around US$12 billion.

SOCAR owns 80 percent of the project, while Turkish Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAS) owns 15 percent; TPAO owns the remaining five percent.

When completed, TANAP will carry around 16 billion cubic meters of gas per year to Europe via TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline).

This capacity is expected to double by 2026, to do this Turkmenistan, Iraqi and Iranian gas will also be included.

TANAP has been a focal point of recent discussions about Europe decreasing its dependency on Russian gas.

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