Erdogan promises free natural gas to households ahead of May elections

In the run-up to the May 14 elections, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to provide free natural gas to households, a move that could potentially help him regain power after two decades. The announcement where Erdogan promises free natural gas came during a ceremony inaugurating Turkey’s first onshore natural gas port in Zonguldak, which received its inaugural gas delivery from a Black Sea reserve.

Erdogan stated that households would receive up to 25 cubic meters of free natural gas per month for one year, beginning next month. This initiative is part of the government’s effort to showcase large-scale energy and infrastructure projects before the elections. This comes as Turkey, with limited oil and gas resources, is heavily reliant on imports from Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Qatar, the US, Nigeria, and Algeria.

Turkey’s domestic natural gas production, which only accounted for less than 1% of the country’s consumption in 2021, is sourced primarily from the Thrace region. However, Erdogan claims that the Black Sea gas fields will eventually provide 30% of the nation’s annual consumption. He also announced that the initial production of 10 million cubic meters of gas per day will be increased to 40 million cubic meters in the coming period.

Despite the unveiling of various infrastructure and defence projects, Erdogan’s leadership is under threat due to a cost-of-living crisis and criticism of his handling of February’s massive earthquake. Opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu is currently leading in opinion polls.

Next week, Erdogan is set to inaugurate Turkey’s first nuclear power reactor, built by Russia’s state energy company Rosatom. The project is expected to contribute significantly to Turkey’s energy mix and reduce its dependence on foreign energy sources.

In addition to energy initiatives, the Turkish president has promised to complete Istanbul’s urban transformation within five years, addressing earthquake risks and building 650,000 new homes in affected areas. Erdogan aims to replace all risky structures in Istanbul by transforming 300,000 residences per year. The government has pledged to cover half of the conversion costs, while providing affordable, conditional borrowing for the remainder. He removed a retirement age requirement in December, allowing more than two million workers to retire immediately, just six months before an election in Turkey.

President Erdogan has also emphasized the creation of new living spaces, complete with schools, health centres, markets, green areas, and parks. Moreover, he underlined the importance of establishing small industrial estates to address both housing and employment concerns.

During his tenure, Erdogan has overseen the construction of new homes in the aftermath of numerous disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, and fires. He expressed hope to replicate this success in the regions affected by the recent earthquake.

Image Credit: Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Press

Tags : Turkey