x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Energised relations between Turkey and the UAE

A growing economy, a stable investment climate and plenty of opportunities to make money in the energy sector. What is true for the UAE is increasingly true for Turkey.

Miners work in a coal mine in Zonguldak on the Black Sea. Osman Orsal / Reuters
Miners work in a coal mine in Zonguldak on the Black Sea. Osman Orsal / Reuters

A growing economy, a stable investment climate and plenty of opportunities to make money in the energy sector. What is true for the UAE is increasingly true for Turkey.

As the similarities grow, investment opportunities in the country on the Bosphorus that connects the European and Asian continents arise, enabling Abu Dhabi to play an increasing role in the energy sector abroad.

In the past, the UAE - and Abu Dhabi in particular - have seen a one-way flow of investment and technology enable the construction of power plants that keep the lights on in the Emirates.

These days, international investors are still flocking to the country when new projects - such as the Al Mirfa power plant - are being tendered. But the story is less one-sided. In the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, known as Taqa, the Government has an investor with an increasing outward focus that already owns power generation and oil and gas assets across the globe.

Other Abu Dhabi-owned entities are also looking abroad, with Mubadala Development, its clean energy subsidiary Masdar and the International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic) all active. Mubadala is a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government.

But it is Taqa that is making the biggest strides, and it is not surprising that its biggest deal to date was with Turkey.

After an agreement between Abu Dhabi and Ankara signed at the beginning of the month, Taqa can now pursue a deal to develop Turkish coal mines and power plants worth up to US$12 billion (Dh44.08bn).

Taqa will work in conjunction with the Turkish government utility Elektrik Uretim and may bring in further partners for individual plants to spread the cost. But the scale dwarfs any energy investment made by the company, or the emirate, outside of its boundaries.

If the Turks have it their way, it will not be the last time Abu Dhabi invests in Turkey's energy sector. "Turkey's economy is growing sustainably and therefore needs more investments. The UAE has … sound and robust financial resources, and Turkey has got sound and robust investment projects," says Taner Yildiz, the Turkish energy minister.

The interest is reciprocated.

"The Turkish economy is doing very well because it's got a good investment climate. And if you have a good investment climate than we will come and invest," says the UAE Energy Minister Mohammed Al Hamli. The minister points out trade volumes between the two countries have multiplied over the last decade. "This indicates how strong the relationship between Turkey and the UAE is, at a political, culturally and economic level," says Mr Al Hamli.

The next big investment could be in nuclear power.

Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) is building Abu Dhabi's first four nuclear reactors, due to be completed by 2020. Turkey is also seeking to boost its power generation capacity with nuclear energy and has awarded a first tender to Russia.

A second plant is now being tendered and Kepco is in the running. Should the South Koreans win, it is possible that Abu Dhabi would enter into the project as an investor.

Even if the Chinese, Japanese or Canadian bidders win the contract, Abu Dhabi could still become a shareholder, says Mr Yildiz.

He sees further scope for his country and the UAE to work together.

"There will also be cooperation in the area of renewables, energy efficiency. There are a lot of projects that could be developed. The UAE and Turkey could also cooperate in third countries."

 

fneuhof@thenational.ae