BOTAŞ was established on August 15, 1974, to transport Iraqi crude oil to the Gulf of Iskenderun, within the Crude Oil Pipeline Agreement framework signed on August 27, 1973, between the Governments of the Republic of Turkey and the Republic of Iraq. BOTAŞ, which initially only transported oil through pipelines, has also started its activities related to the trade and transportation of natural gas in 1986 to meet the increasing energy needs of our country.
BOTAŞ currently carries out the following activities.
1. Oil and Natural Gas Pipeline Management
2. LNG/FSRU Terminal Management
3. Port Services
4. Expropriation and Construction Works for Oil and Natural Gas Pipelines, Compressor Stations
5. Natural Gas and LNG Trade
6. Natural Gas and LNG Storage Activities
7. International Natural Gas and Oil Transportation Projects
The liberalization of the natural gas market by increasing the private sector's share by reducing the role of the public sector came into question 10 years after the Natural Gas Market Law dated April 18, 2001, and numbered 4646. In this context, the restructuring and privatization of BOTAŞ are also envisaged. During the restructuring process, it has been suggested that BOTAŞ will be divided into three to carry out transmission activities, operation of LNG facilities, and storage activities and other activities no change in the name of BOTAŞ has been considered.
After another ten years, the restructuring of BOTAŞ came to the fore again last year. There was no mention of any change in the name of BOTAŞ in the news about the establishment of different companies operating mainly in the fields of operation and trade.
What does BOTAŞ stand for? Many people who answer this question will not right away say Petroleum Pipeline Corporation. When we look at the 125 Megabyte sized 2020 Annual Report, we cannot find an answer to the share of the pipeline and oil transportation activities of BOTAŞ, which has many fields of activity. However, when we say BOTAŞ, most of us think of natural gas. The most important reason is probably the 87% share of BOTAŞ' natural gas sales in Turkey's natural gas consumption. The share of BOTAŞ in pipe gas and LNG imports are similarly very high.
When BOTAŞ is mentioned in international markets, natural gas comes to mind immediately. The main reason for this is that Turkey has been in the top 10 in the world natural gas and LNG trade in recent years, rather than being a large gas market. It is undeniable that Turkey's name is increasingly prominent in LNG trade, especially in spot LNG trade. For example, Turkey was the third largest US LNG importer last December, after the UK and South Korea. The first institution that comes to mind when Turkey is mentioned is BOTAŞ, in other words, Petroleum Pipeline Corporation.
So, shouldn't BOTAŞ be restructured under a new name at a time when even international giant companies are changing their names in parallel with the changes in their activities? Also, as BOTAŞ, which is at the top of the world LNG trade, is an international player, shouldn't it be only limited to LNG imports and but also engage in trading? Or at least shouldn't it join forces with leading companies in the market such as JERA and EDF Trading Limited did for LNG optimization and trading?
Would not it be even stronger if it went public as the next step? Time will tell us the answers to these questions, but it can be useful to brainstorm now.