Turkey in talks with US firm ExxonMobile over multibillion-dollar LNG deal

An Exxon service station sign is seen in Nashville, US. April 25, 2017.
An Exxon service station sign is seen in Nashville, US. April 25, 2017. Copyright Mark Humphrey/AP.
Copyright Mark Humphrey/AP.
By Eleanor Butler
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As Turkey's relations with the US become easier, Ankara is looking at a change of direction from Moscow for its gas supplies.


Turkey is in discussions with US energy giant ExxonMobil regarding a multibillion-dollar deal to buy liquefied natural gas.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Turkish energy minister Alparslan Bayraktar said that his country was hoping to diversify its energy providers, therefore bolstering national security.

As part of the proposed deal, Turkey would secure up to 2.5 million tonnes of LNG a year from Exxon, at a cost of around $1.1 billion.

The agreement could last a decade, although the exact conditions were yet to be determined, Bayraktar said.

Talks between Exxon and Turkey come at a time when the country is seeking to reduce its reliance on Russian energy.

Natural gas is essential for electricity generation in Turkey and, in 2022, the country imported 100% of the gas it consumed.

Turkey looks towards other nations for energy support

Moscow remains Ankara's primary provider of this fuel, accounting for more than 40% of its consumption last year.

However, given the recent weaponisation of energy supplies, notably linked to President Putin's war in Ukraine, Turkey finds itself in a vulnerable position.

Russia's decision to cut gas deliveries to the EU serves as a stark warning to other nations who may be heavily reliant on it for supplies.  

Turkey has retained strong ties with President Putin throughout the war in Ukraine, bucking the trend set by NATO allies.

Despite this, as some of its long-term contracts with Russia expire in 2025, Ankara is casting a net for alternative providers.

Relations with the US helping to improve options

Turkey's reported deal with Exxon is also helped by improving relations between Ankara and Washington.

The two countries hold diverging views on a number of issues but their relationship has recently become more amicable.

In a move that pleased the US, Ankara dropped its veto on Sweden joining NATO, and Washington approved a deal to sell F-16 warplanes to Turkey in January.

Another way in which Turkey is diversifying its energy portfolio is by gradually increasing its imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), rather than pipeline gas.

About 30% of Turkish natural gas imports last year were LNG, up from 15% in 2014.

LNG provides greater flexibility in sourcing natural gas as it can be obtained from various global markets, unlike pipeline gas which requires connecting infrastructure.

Turkey currently receives Russian pipeline gas via the Blue Stream and TurkStream channels across the Black Sea, although these pipes required significant investment and years of construction.


Net zero still some way off

Ankara has also signed up to a target of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2053.

While the significance of gas is therefore set to decrease, Turkey’s transition towards clean fuels is likely to take several decades.

Meanwhile, the nation is hoping to position itself as a regional energy hub, despite its heavy reliance on imports.

Turkey aims to capitalise on its proximity to energy-rich countries such as Azerbaijan, Iran, and Iraq to distribute energy to neighbouring nations.

That said, European countries may be hesitant to accept this arrangement if Turkey remains heavily dependent on Russian fuel.

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