Turkey expects first unit of Akkuyu nuclear plant to be online by end 2023

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey expects the first unit of its planned $20 billion Akkuyu nuclear power plant, being built in collaboration with Russia, to be online by the end of 2023, energy minister Berat Albayrak said on Tuesday.

President Tayyip Erdogan has said that work on the Akkuyu project, in southern Turkey, would be accelerated after Russia and Turkey restored ties in August. That followed months of tension between Ankara and Moscow after Turkey downed a Russian warplane over Syria late last year.

In a presentation to parliament outlining his ministry’s budget for next year, Albayrak said Turkey would focus on enhancing supply security in natural gas and electricity and using as much domestic and renewable energy sources as possible.

He also said the country was on track to become a major hub for energy trading, particularly for natural gas. Plans were being accelerated for additional natural gas storage, and for a floating storage regasification unit (FSRU) for liquefied natural gas (LNG), he said.

“Following the latest measures, the storage capacity will increase to 10 million cubic meters,” Albayrak said, adding that Turkey’s annual natural gas consumption was around five times more than that.

Turkey plans to bring online the first phase of new natural gas storage facilities near the capital Ankara by January, while upgrades for existing storage are due to be completed from 2019 onwards.

It also plans to drill a deep water oil well in the western part of the Black Sea in 2018, Albayrak said.

He added that Turkey’s total power generation capacity has risen to 78,072 megawatts (MW) as of end-September, with 2,097 production plants.

Natural gas is the main source of Turkey’s energy supply at 31 percent, while oil products are the source for 30 percent of energy supplies, followed by coal with 27 percent and renewables at 12 percent.

Reporting by Gulsen Solaker; Writing by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by David Dolan and Susan Fenton