Good morning. I am really delighted to be back in Istanbul to participate in this revival of the Atlantic Council’s Regional Energy Forum.
I’m even more pleased that my very first trip abroad as the new Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources includes Turkiye, a country that has played such a clear and prominent role in our collective response to Putin’s unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine. A war that has caused such suffering among the people of Ukraine as well as disruption to global energy markets, global food supplies, and commodities.
I also want to acknowledge the presence of Minister Bayraktar and also my friend and colleague, Ambassador Flake. It’s great to see you, Jeff. We were last Together in Delphi. It’s hard to imagine a more sublime combination than Istanbul and Delphi, so good luck to both of us.
I last spoke at this forum in 2017 when my panel discussion focused on the challenges of energy diversification and the question of whether or not the Southern Gas Corridor would ever be completed. Times have sure changed. But one thing that was true then and is true now, is that the United States will always be there to support our allies and partners to improve our collective energy security especially at a time of disruption and suffering among our citizens.
Even beyond Ukraine, Putin’s war of choice has caused a major shift in Europe’s and the region’s approach to energy security. It has up ended the world’s energy map.
I know that I speak for everyone in this room in expressing the horror that I felt at the images we woke up to yesterday of missiles raining down on Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, and Zaporizhzhia. Russia, I believe has proven for all time that it will not be a reliable supplier of energy so long as it continues to weaponize its energy resources as an instrument of war. Putin’s war and the disruption it has unleashed has made clear the dangers of over-reliance on a single supplier. Particularly one that is willing to use its energy as a tool of coercion.
This war has also incentivized us all, in Europe in particular, to accelerate our investments in energy transition and the renewable technologies that are the surest source of energy security.
Our shared challenge are three. First, to identify reliable volumes of non-Russian sources of natural gas for European markets. Second, to reduce overall demand for natural gas through efficiency measures. And three, at the same time, to accelerate our work on the clean energy transition. None of these are contradictory, in my view.
There is more urgency than ever to pursue these goals as energy prices have sky-rocketed in Europe and globally. Wholesale natural gas prices in Europe are up more than ten times their average from the first half of 2021. Global coal prices are around twice what they were one year ago, and global oil prices are up by a third. These rapid substantial increases underscore the urgency of diversifying sources and routes, of accelerating clean energy projects which have low operational costs, and the importance of investing in technologies that can help to improve efficiency in industry and transport.
We are working with our allies and partners to address all three of these goals, and most urgently to increase and diversify LNG supplies to Europe.
Of note, since February, 70 percent of US LNG exports have landed in Europe and the US this year is on track to become the world’s largest LNG exporter reflecting both the United States’ energy resource endowment and the ingenuity and flexibility of our industry.
But even here climate concerns remain central. We’re working with industry to reduce greenhouse gas intensity of natural gas infrastructure across the entire value chain and to sustain progress toward our shared climate goals. We recognize the important role that our allies and partners play in these efforts.
In Turkiye we have cooperated to advance near-, medium-, and long-term projects and diversify energy supplies to Europe. The Western Balkans, for instance, are looking at a particularly difficult winter ahead. We are working with countries in the region to support each other and advance our collective energy security.
Having visited the TAP pipeline under construction in 1998 I was particularly pleased to be in Greece in December of 2020 when the pipeline came online, diversifying and increasing supplies of natural gas from Azerbaijan to Turkiye and Europe. And as Russia has throttled back on gas supplies this year, the Southern Gas Corridor has played a critical role in helping Europe in Italy, Greece, and Bulgaria in particular, to weather the storm.
In Sofia later this week I’ll be able to celebrate the official launch a few days ago of the Interconnector — Greece, Bulgaria — which will carry more gas from Azerbaijan to Southeastern Europe and help Bulgaria in particular to escape its dependence on Russia. And North Macedonia we hope will not be far behind.
Like the Southern Gas Corridor, the IGB project was the culmination of years of technical, commercial, political and diplomatic effort. President von der Leyen rightly called it a game-changer for European energy security. We look forward to the completion of the next phase of projects to bring gas to the Western Balkans including importantly the Alexandroupolis FSRU.
We also greatly appreciate what Turkiye has done using its own new regassification facilities to support delivery of LNG to its neighbors. Much of this gas infrastructure is linked to the region’s phase out of coal-based power and thereby advances our climate goals as well.
As we are advancing these important gas projects, we also seek to strengthen our partnership on the deployment of renewable energy and electricity interconnectors that will allow clean energy to be generated across and shared among countries.
Over the course of this decisive decade, all of us will need to accelerate dramatically the adoption of renewables. New storage infrastructure, electric vehicles, decarbonize hard to abate sectors, and so much more to advance the clean energy transition. It won’t be easy, but if we don’t push ahead today the consequences for tomorrow will be dire.
I know that everybody here in Turkiye understands the reality of the climate crisis. I will always remember visiting the Greek island of Rhodes in August of 2021 and the bright orange skies as both Greece and Turkiye were fighting a catastrophic wave of wildfires fueled by climate change and extreme drought.
The Biden administration is clear in its view that over time true energy security will only be achieved through a clean energy transition that moves all of our countries away from unabated fossil fuels. We are working towards a future energy system that utilizes locally available resources like hydro, solar, wind, and geothermal while leveraging regional interconnections for stability and financial sustainability.
We’re also supporting commercialization of technologies vital to making our goals a reality. From CCUS and other abatement technologies to deploying at scale zero carbon energy technologies such as small modular nuclear reactors, advanced battery storage, and clean hydrogen.
At home President Biden has secured congressional support for about $370 billion in new domestic climate and energy transition investment through the Inflation Reduction Act. We support our allies and partners in achieving these same goals. This includes supporting innovation in nuclear energy which has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, we’re committing to funding for a feed study to provide the basis for the deployment of a small modular reactor in Romania. We need to be realistic that nuclear projects can take many years to come online. However, I want to be very clear that the Biden administration strongly supports nuclear power as part of our tool kit to move towards a cleaner and more secure energy mix.
As I look at this region, I see that many countries have already prioritized clean energy. A standout example is our host country here in Turkiye which is a real leader in this effort with over 50 percent installed renewable capacity and reaching for more. As a large economy and a NATO ally, Turkiye fills a critical role in regional efforts to diversify and transition energy supplies of which TANAP and the Southern Gas Corridor is only the most prominent example.
To conclude, we live in an extraordinary time. Today’s global energy transition is among the most significant moments in the history of energy. Not unlike previous transitions from wood to coal, coal to oil, and the adoption of industrialization and global shipping and aviation. Ultimately, we’re aiming for a global energy system where clean energy and access are widespread and affordable across all regions and all sectors. We’re exploring how we can work with countries to accelerate deployment at scale of these technologies as quickly and as efficiently as possible in partnership with private sector counterparts, and we are seeking to do so in a way that reinforces our open, rules-based international order.
In addition to technologies, we want to improve the efficiencies in power exchange trading across European neighbors. The clean energy transition will also require new supply chains that are resilient, secure, and diversified so that we are not in a position where again a single bad actor can disrupt supplies. We must not fall into a situation where a single supplier can manipulate critical minerals and clean tech supply chains as Putin has done with fossil fuels.
In sum, the United States is committed to tackling the climate crisis both at home and abroad. It’s both a national security concern and an economic security issue.
COP27 of course is coming up next month. I hope we all use this COP to strengthen the global commitment to reduce emissions, especially in the energy sector. As just one example of how we can do this, the United States is urging countries that have not yet done so to commit to the global methane pledge before COP27.
But we need to remember the climate crisis is not just a challenge. It’s a once in a generation chance for us to work together to accelerate the deployment of clean and renewable energy solutions and to create opportunity for our citizens.
Thank you all for your time and thank you for your wonderful hospitality. I look forward to exploring with each of you how we can strengthen our cooperation on all of these issues in a way that creates benefits for us all.