December 13, 2015
Tanchum: TANAP and the Semi-Encirclement of Iran: Progress and Paradoxes in Turkey's Energy Diplomacy
The Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) is a cornerstone of Turkey's energy diplomacy and Ankara's answer to the strategic paradox that 56.7 percent of Turkey's natural gas comes from one of its principal geopolitical rivals: Russia. The central pillar in Turkey's plan to diversify its natural gas supply mix, the 11 billion dollar TANAP project, is slated to transport natural gas from Azerbaijan's offshore Shah Deniz field across the length of Turkey for sale in both Turkey's domestic gas market as well as in the EU.
The product of Turkey’s far-sighted, strategic energy partnership with Azerbaijan, TANAP will initially transport 16 bcm annually from the Shah Deniz field’s second phase of development via the expanded South Caucasus Pipeline (SCPX) extending across Azerbaijan and Georgia to the Turkish border. However, TANAP will ultimately transport 60 bcm annually, with capacity expansion and the inclusion of additional suppliers. Building on its energy partnership with Azerbaijan, Turkey’s efforts to secure other suppliers for TANAP has also succeeded in creating a framework to contain the influence of Ankara’s other principal geopolitical rival: Iran. Paralleling the strategic paradox with Russia, Iran constitutes Turkey’s second largest supplier of natural gas, accounting for almost 20 percent of Turkey’s import supply mix. Turkey’s efforts to secure natural gas supplies from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq and Turkmenistan for TANAP has resulted in the creation of an arc of strategic energy relationships with states and political entities bordering Iran, effecting the virtual encirclement of Iran north of about 35 degrees north latitude. For Turkey, this is an important strategic gain in light of the expected expansion of Iranian regional influence with the anticipated lifting of international sanctions against Iran in 2016.