The thirteenth Turkish International Oil and Gas Conference, Turoge, the largest inTurkey, began in Ankara on Wednesday."Turkey wants to increase and differentiate the sources of its energy supply. Forthat, we will discuss new opportunities with Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Iraqand the East Mediterranean," Turkish energy minister Taner Yildiz said, adding thatthey wish to partake in possible future oil and gas projects in close geographicalproximity to Turkey.Iraq Oil Minister Abdul-Kareem Luaibi said they aim to develop a natural gas system, which includes Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey.He also added that Iraq aims to sell 300 million barrels of oil this year tointernational markets, increasing the amount of oil they exported last year by 4 million barrels.Francis J. Ricciardone, US ambassador to Ankara was among guests and said Turkeyand the U.S. should cooperate on developing unconventional sources of oil and gasand added the conference presents a unique opportunity for American companies tomeet their counterparts as they can cooperate on exploration, pipeline constructionand design, as well as many other high tech elements of infrastructure.- BOTAS encourages privatization of Turkish gas sectori?Touching upon the criticisms directed at BOTAS, Turkey's state owned petroleumpipeline company, on the grounds that it monopolizes the natural gas sector inTurkey, leaving no floor to private companies, “BOTAS itself gives the biggestsupport to private sector, said Chairman of BOTAS, Mehmet Konuk.In 2005, BOTAS opened a bid to hand down 16 billion cubic meters of natural gasimport contract to private sector, part of a plan to liberalise the natural gas market.Russia, as the exporter of the natural gas and having the rights to decide on who tosupply by agreement, only gave permission to 4 billion cubic meters to be sold to private companies, and we handed down that amount to private sector, illustratedKonuk.Similarly, he added, “When in 2011, the contact of 6 billion cubic meters of the gasbought from Russia ended, we handed it down totally to private sector.”Currently private sector’s share in Turkey’s gas industry is 20 percent, he said.President of Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) Besim Sisman said, TPAO is thebiggest player in upstream business and has a big commitment to Turkish economywith oil and gas production as Turkey pays around US$60 billion to energy imports."We have taken strategic steps to realize TPAO’s main mission of increasing Turkey’soil reserves by investing in countries across the globe," said Sisman and added thatTurkey has a 2023 vision – centenary of republic – and we, as TPAO, have developedstrategies in line with that global vision and act along."We need to make partnerships and invest in strategic oil and gas projects indifferent countries in order to become a global player just as we planned," he noted,adding that TPAO wants to create a strong organization for taking a route in line with Turkey’s growing influence and power that has been observed for the last tenyears.TUROGE will continue on April 9-10 in Sheraton Hotel in Ankara.