Turkey must play a role in natural gas resources from Iraq and eastern Mediterranean, which plans to open up in the region, International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director Fatih Birol told Anadolu Agency.
At present, Turkey purchases most of its natural gas from a single country, but this has to be diversified, he said at the IHS CERAWeek 2017 energy conference in Houston.
Out of the almost 50 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas Turkey consumes annually, around 55 percent comes from its northern neighbor Russia, while Azerbaijan and Iran are other countries that supply pipeline gas to Turkey.
Birol stressed that a significant amount of gas resources in countries around Turkey can be utilized, namely from Iraq and the eastern Mediterranean.
The executive director noted that Iraq is currently going through an unstable period, but once these difficult times are over, he said it will "enter a golden era" through its rich and low-cost gas and oil reserves.
Turkey can also benefit from gas resources in the eastern Mediterranean, Birol said.
"Economically, the most viable option for natural gas from Cyprus and Israel traveling to Europe is through Turkey," he said.
The executive director added that apart from pipeline gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG) from African and Asian countries could help Turkey diversify its sources.
"We will not put all the eggs in the same basket," he said.
Energy security was a topic that Birol also discussed with a focus on the importance of oil and gas storage to achieve this.
"Sometimes, unexpected things can happen in oil and gas. As a precaution, we have to stock our gas and oil, just like we deposit our money in banks," he said.
The director explained that Turkey has taken major steps towards gas and oil storage this year, and underlined the importance of the Salt Lake gas storage facility that opened last month.
The facility will increase Turkey's annual gas storage capacity from 1 bcm to as much as 5 bcm, and will enable the injection of around 40 million cubic meters of gas per day to Turkey’s gas grid.
-"We are entering a golden age of gas"
Birol confirmed that gas will become more popular and declared that it will indeed enter a golden age, in reference to the title of the IEA's World Energy Outlook 2011 report, Are We Entering a Golden Age of Gas?
He added that global gas output is expected to increase significantly, especially with production from the U.S. and Australia.
"This will lower gas prices," Birol said. "I believe natural gas will play an important role in Turkey as well," he concluded.
By Ovunc Kutlu in Houston, Texas