Turkey eyes new power partner after TAQA delays

Energy minister says in talks with South Korea after delays hit project with Abu Dhabi firm

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

Turkey is in talks with South Korea over a lignite power project that has been delayed by its initial partner, Abu Dhabi National Energy Co, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Thursday.

Abu Dhabi's state-owned oil explorer and power supplier agreed in January to build several power plants to be fuelled by lignite coal reserves in Turkey's Afsin-Elbistan region, but earlier this week it announced the project was delayed.

Turkish energy industry sources said the company was planning to pull out of the project..

"This investment will not be out in the cold," Taner Yildiz told reporters. "We can't insist to TAQA, 'Come, take part in this.' We are also in talks with South Korea about this."

He did not give further details.

A recent selloff of emerging market assets has sent Turkey's currency to record lows, weighing on its growth outlook, and TAQA was concerned about the possibility of further capital outflows, the industry sources said.

TAQA declined to comment on its plans but said it decided to defer the investment decision in Afsin-Elbistan until 2014, citing "other spending priorities". Construction of the project had been due to start in mid-2013.

The sources also said TAQA's decision could be politically motivated after Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's outspoken criticism of the toppling of Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last month, which has antagonised some Gulf Arab states.

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