Turkey's President Appoints New Energy Minister
Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has appointed the existing energy ministry undersecretary Fatih Donmez to be his new energy minister. He announced his new cabinet only hours after being inaugurated July 9 as Turkey's first executive president, following the adoption two years ago of a new constitution ending the existing parliamentary system.
The appointment was one of several made of existing ministry officials, promoted to minister despite not being elected to the Turkish parliament, suggesting that Erdogan both plans to keep a close control over the workings of his ministries, and to lessen parliamentary oversight.
An Erdogan loyalist, Donmez was appointed as energy ministry undersecretary in 2015, following the appointment of Erdogan's son in law, Berat Albayrak as energy minister.
Both appointments were viewed at the time as aimed at increasing control over a ministry whose previous officials has been close to former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Donmez holds a degree and masters degree in electrical and electronic engineering and worked in the research and development department of Istanbul municipality gas company Igdas where he rose to become deputy CEO and board member, before being appointed as the general co-ordinator for all Istanbul municipality companies.
In 2008 he was appointed as a committee member of Turkey's energy regulator EPDK, where he prepared the committee's strategy report and served on the "supply security" committee.
Donmez' appointment as minister suggests both that Erdogan plans to maintain close control over Turkish energy policy and that he recognises the need for an energy minister who understands the technical workings of the energy sector, and in particular the gas sector.
As such no major changes in energy policy are expected with the existing contradictory attitude to gas imports expected to continue.
The past two years in particular have seen the energy ministry increasing efforts to reduce dependence on imported gas by building plant that runs on domestic coal and renewables, while at the same time boosting gas imports through new LNG plants, and pipelines to import gas from Azerbaijan (Tanap) and Russia (TurkStream).
The continued importance of gas to Turkey's energy security was emphasised by the presence at Erdogan's inauguration ceremony of the Russian prime minister Dmitriy Medvedev and Erdogan's decision to make his first overseas trip, less than 24 hours after being inaugurated, to Azerbaijan.
Russia supplies up to 30bn m³/yr (52%) of Turkey's contracted gas import portfolio, with Azerbaijan supplying up to 12.75bn m³/yr (22%).