Oil and gas regulation in Turkey: overview

A Q&A guide to oil and gas regulation in Turkey.

The Q&A gives a high level overview of the domestic oil and gas sector, rights to oil and gas, health safety and the environment, sale and trade in oil and gas, tax and enforcement of regulation. It covers transfer of rights; transportation by pipeline; environmental impact assessments; decommissioning; waste regulations and proposals for reform.

To compare answers across multiple jurisdictions, visit the energy and natural resources Oil and gas regulation Country Q&A tool.

This Q&A is part of the multi-jurisdictional guide to energy and natural resources. For a full list of content visit www.practicallaw.com/energy-mjg.

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Contents

Domestic sector

1. Describe the domestic sector for oil and gas, including liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Turkish Petroleum Corporation (Türkiye Petrolleri Anonim Ortaklığı) (TPAO), which is a state-owned entity, is dominant in onshore and offshore exploration and exploitation activities. TPAO has focused especially on exploration activities in the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea since 2004 through joint operation agreements with international entities (including Petrobras, ExxonMobil and Chevron). However, investments by domestic and foreign private players are growing in exploration activities.

Total domestic production (extraction) of crude oil was 2.4 million tonnes in 2011, which was extracted as follows:

  • TPAO: 75%.

  • NV Turkse Perenco: 17%.

  • Petrom Dorchester: 5%.

  • Other private legal entities: 3%.

(Source: Oil and Natural Gas Sector Report 2011, TPAO (www.enerji.gov.tr/yayinlar_raporlar/Sektor_Raporu_TPAO_2011.pdf).)

Total domestic production (extraction) of gas was 760 million cubic metres in 2011 (separate figures for LNG are not available). However, this is only 1.7% of Turkey's total gas consumption in 2011.

Of the total domestic gas extracted in 2011, TPAO extracted 42%, with the remainder extracted as follows:

  • Thrace Basin Natural Gas Corporation: 31%.

  • Amity Oil International: 7%.

  • Transatlantic Exploration Mediterranean International: 6%.

  • Petrol Ofisi Arama Üretim Sanayi ve Ticaret AŞ: 6%.

  • Foinavon Energy: 3%.

  • Tiway Turkey: 3%.

  • Petrogas Petrol ve Petrokimya Ürünleri İnşaat Sanayi ve Ticaret AŞ: 2%.

(Source: Natural Gas Market, 2011 Sector Report, Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA) (www.emra.org.tr/documents/natural_gas/publishments/NaturalGasMarket2011SectorReport_Q9WwGbRxxnRy.pdf).)

Oil (petroleum) refining activities are performed by TÜPRAŞ (Turkey's sole crude oil processing company which is active as of the date of this article). Petrochemical outputs are produced by Petkim (Turkey's largest petrochemical company). Distribution and marketing activities are led by OMV Petrol Ofisi (Turkey's leading fuel products' distribution and lubricants company), although there are other market players.

Transportation of oil and gas by vessels through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits is governed by the Montreux Convention Concerning the Regime of the Turkish Straits 1936, which entitles Turkey to full control over the straits. Turkey must keep these international waterways open for commercial traffic in peacetime (Montreux Convention Concerning the Regime of the Turkish Straits 1936).

The state-owned Turkish Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (Boru Hatları İle Petrol Taşıma Anonim Şirketi) (BOTAŞ) is dominant in the import and trade of gas. BOTAŞ is also the national grid operator.

Offshore

Oil and gas consumed in 2011 was mainly imported and supplied as follows:

  • Crude oil:

    • imported from the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Kazakhstan: 88%;

    • procured by refineries from domestic sources: 12% (that is, 2.43 million tonnes).

  • Gas:

    • imported by BOTAŞ: 87.5%;

    • imported by private legal entities: 10.8%;

    • provided by domestic production companies: 1.7%.

(Source: Natural Gas Market, 2011 Sector Report, Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA) (www.emra.org.tr/documents/natural_gas/publishments/NaturalGasMarket2011SectorReport_Q9WwGbRxxnRy.pdf).)

 
2. What percentage of domestic energy needs is met by oil and gas?

Domestic energy needs in 2011 were met as follows:

  • Oil: 26.7%.

  • Gas: 31.9%.

  • Coal: 30.7%.

  • Renewables and other sources: 10.7%.

(Source: Electricity Generation Company (Elektrik Üretim AŞ Genel Müdürlüğü) (EÜAŞ) (www.euas.gov.tr/apk%20daire%20baskanligi%20kitapligi/Sektor%20Raporu/Sektor_Raporu_2011.pdf).)

 

Domestic policy

3. What is the domestic policy on oil and gas?

Government

The government's main policy is to incrementally liberalise and deregulate the oil and gas sectors to ensure supply security at competitive prices in a regular and environmentally friendly manner. EU regulations, international organisations' regulations for example World Trade Organization, and Turkey's obligations under bilateral or multilateral treaties for example under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change are considered during the policy making process. One of the core elements of the government's long-term strategy is to end the vertically integrated structure of state-owned energy companies (for example, BOTAŞ). The government also aims to develop a long-term policy to make Turkey an international power trade hub through the Nabucco (pipeline from Asia to supply gas to Central and Eastern Europe) and Shah Deniz (pipeline from the Caspian Sea to supply gas to Turkey and Europe) projects.

Other regulatory bodies

The following regulatory bodies are involved in policy making:

  • Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MENR) (Enerji ve Tabii Kaynaklar Bakanlığı) (ETKB). MENR is responsible for preparing and implementing high-level energy policies, strategies and plans in co-ordination with its affiliated institutions, and other public and private entities.

  • General Directorate of Petroleum Affairs (GDPA) (Petrol İşleri Genel Müdürlüğü) (PİGM). The main policy of GDPA is aimed at utilisation of oil and gas sources in an efficient and expeditious manner by promoting the contribution of national and foreign market players.

    GDPA, which is affiliated with MENR, is responsible for setting the national policy for petroleum affairs, ensuring the utilisation of oil and gas fields and granting oil and gas exploration and exploitation licences (that is, the upstream segment) (see Question 4).

  • Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA) (Enerji Piyasası Düzenleme Kurumu) (EPDK). EMRA is an independent regulatory authority that is administratively and financially autonomous. EMRA implements the Petroleum Market Law No. 5015, dated 4 December 2003 (Petroleum Market Law) and the Natural Gas Market Law No. 4646, dated 18 April 2001 (Natural Gas Market Law). The objectives of the Petroleum Market Law and the Natural Gas Market Law are to establish a financially sound, stable, competitive and transparent oil and gas market and ensure independent regulation and supervision in these markets.

See Question 5 and box, The regulatory authorities.

 

Regulation

The regulatory regime

4. Describe the regulatory regime that applies to oil and gas exploration and production, including the key legislation and features of the regime.

Upstream activities are governed by the Petroleum Law No. 6326, dated 7 March 1954 (Petroleum Law) and regulated by GDPA. Upstream activities are exploration and exploitation of oil and gas (also known as the exploration and production (E&P) segment), which includes searching for, recovery and bringing to the surface crude oil and gas. A draft petroleum law is under debate; and it is expected that the Parliament will soon enact this new law, which will repeal the Petroleum Law in its entirety.

All oil extraction, exploration and operation activities or gas extraction activities (that is, upstream activities) must obtain a licence from GDPA (Article 5, Petroleum Law). An exploration licence cannot be issued for an area more than 50,000 hectares in Turkey. This figure is 25,000 hectares for an exploitation licence. This limitation does not apply to licences outside Turkish territorial waters.

Midstream and downstream activities are governed by the Petroleum Market Law and the Natural Gas Market Law and regulated by EMRA.

The Natural Gas Market Law governs the gas market, including:

  • Import.

  • Transmission.

  • Distribution.

  • Storage.

  • Marketing.

  • Trade and export.

  • Rights and obligations of all real and legal persons relating to these activities.

These market activities are subject to the permission, control, supervision and guidance of EMRA. Legal entities that intend to perform natural gas market activities (that is, midstream and downstream activities) must obtain a licence from EMRA in accordance with the Natural Gas Market Law, Natural Gas Market Licensing Regulation and other secondary legislation.

A licence must be obtained from EMRA according to Article 3, Petroleum Market Law for the following in relation to oil:

  • Refining.

  • Processing.

  • Mineral oil production.

  • Storage.

  • Transmission.

  • Eligible consumer and bunker fuel activities (that is, midstream and downstream activities).

  • Establishing and/or operating facilities to perform these activities.

Liquid fuel distribution, transportation and dealership activities are also subject to licence from EMRA under the Petroleum Market Law and Petroleum Market Licensing Regulation. The government intends to amend certain provisions of the Petroleum Market Law whereby the role of the MENR would be expanded.

Domestic

Both private foreign and domestic legal entities can hold an oil and gas exploration licence and/or an exploitation licence. Legal entities owned directly or indirectly by foreign governments can only hold licences with the approval of the Council of Ministers (Bakanlar Kurulu). The draft petroleum law, which is under debate, is structured to remove this statutory limitation for foreign entities.

Legal entities can perform oil and gas extraction and exploration activities for a limited period of time, provided that GDPA grants a licence under the Petroleum Law.

Legal entities that intend to sell and market the gas extracted, must also obtain a wholesale licence from EMRA (Article 4, Natural Gas Market Law and Article 25, Natural Gas Market Licensing Regulation).

 

Regulatory bodies

5. Who regulates the extraction of oil and gas?

The regulatory bodies include (see Question 3):

  • MENR. MENR determines and implements national energy policy objectives. In addition, MENR:

    • ensures co-ordination between related public bodies and private entities;

    • supervises all exploration, development, production and distribution activities for energy and natural resources.

  • GDPA. GDPA evaluates applications and issues licences for the exploration, extraction and operation of oil and gas sources and can grant licences for these activities.

  • EMRA. EMRA is responsible for the regulation, supervision and guidance of the oil and gas market (that is, midstream and downstream segment) in a competitive environment under the Petroleum Market Law and the Natural Gas Market Law.

See box, The regulatory authorities.

 

Rights to oil and gas

Ownership

6. How are rights to oil and gas held, and who holds those rights?

Natural wealth and resources are under the control of and at the disposal of the state (Article 168, Constitution of the Republic of Turkey (Constitution)). Therefore, the right to explore and exploit resources belongs to the state. The state can delegate this right to individuals or public corporations for a certain period of time. All natural wealth and resources explored and exploited by the state in partnership with individuals or public corporations, and those directly explored and exploited by individuals or public corporations are subject to explicit legal permission (Article 5, Petroleum Law, Article 6, Mining Law No. 3213).

TPAO has the right to obtain exploration and operation (exploitation) rights in the name of the Republic of Turkey. TPAO uses this right either directly or through expert companies, the management and finance of which are under its control. TPAO can also delegate its right to these companies under the Constitution and Petroleum Law (see above). The private companies also can obtain these rights in accordance with the licences issued under the Petroleum Law, Natural Gas Market Law and Petroleum Market Law.

 

Nature of oil and gas rights

7. What are the key features of the leases, licences or concessions which are issued under the regulatory regime? Can these rights be leased by the right-holder?

Lease/licence/concession term

The licences under the Petroleum Market Law are issued for a maximum period of 49 years. The licences under the Natural Gas Market Law are issued for a minimum period of ten years and for a maximum period of 30 years. These periods can be extended on receipt of permission from EMRA.

The exploration licences under the Petroleum Law are issued for a period of four years and can be extended by GDPA for a period of two years. The Council of Ministers is also empowered to provide an additional two years; however, the total term will not exceed eight years starting from the first issuance date of the licence.

The operation licences under the Petroleum Law are issued for a period of 20 years and can be extended by the Council of Ministers two times each for a period of ten years on the proposal of GDPA (that is, ten plus ten years).

Fees

Oil and gas exploration and operation licence holders under the Petroleum Law must pay the state an annual fixed amount per hectare for each exploration area (state right) (Article 56, Petroleum Law). The figures for the exploration licences are as follows:

  • For the first three years: TRY40.

  • For the fourth and fifth years: TRY80.

  • For each year after the fifth year: TRY120.

These amounts can be increased ten times by the Council of Ministers.

The figures for the operation licences are as follows:

  • For the first year: TRY225.

  • For the second year: TRY300.

  • For the third year: TRY375.

  • For the fourth year: TRY450.

  • For the fifth year: TRY600.

  • For the sixth and successive years: TRY750.

These amounts can be increased ten times by the Council of Ministers.

Additionally, the licence holders are required to pay "state share" amounting to one eighth of the petroleum/natural gas extracted and stored accordingly (Article 78, Petroleum Law).

For the midstream and downstream oil and gas activities, an amount of money up to Turkish Lira 890.000 is required to be paid to EMRA to obtain the licence. Besides, certain contribution fees are required to be paid to EMRA. The contribution fees are very detailed and vary depending on the type of the activity; therefore, exact numbers are not given here.

Liability

The licence holders are obliged to act in line with the general and specific requirements set forth in their licences. Otherwise, certain sanctions including administrative fines and revocation of the licences are applicable by EMRA or GDPA. The liabilities are very complicated under the law and it is not practicable to summarise them here.

Restrictions

There are certain restrictions depending on the type of the activity subject to regulation. However, the most significant ones are as follows:

  • The transfer of shares of licence holders is subject to EMRA's approval in midstream and downstream oil and gas activities. In addition, all legal persons holding more than one licence or legal persons performing the same activity in more than one facility are obliged to keep separate accounts and registers for each licensed activity or facility.

  • Legal entities to be engaged in licensed activities in the natural gas market are required to have been established as joint stock or limited liability companies in accordance with the provisions of the Turkish Commercial Code and the shares of the joint stock companies except for the ones listed in the stock exchange must be registered.

  • The annual natural gas amount imported by any import company may not exceed 20% of the national natural gas consumption forecast for the current year determined by EMRA. Additionally, no wholesale company may sell natural gas in quantities higher than 20% of the estimated annual national consumption as determined and announced by EMRA for the relevant year.

Prices in the midstream and downstream petroleum market are basically determined freely among the parties. In some cases, EMRA's approval is mandatory for the effectiveness of the notified prices.

 
8. How are such leases, licences or concessions awarded?

Licences are granted on the application of the legal entities provided that the conditions required for the licences are duly met. If there are multiple applications for the same location on where the relevant activity will be performed, a tender can be called in accordance with the legislation.

 
9. What payments, such as taxes or royalties, are payable by oil and gas interest holders to the government? Does the government derive any other economic benefits from oil and gas exploration and production?

Oil and gas exploration and/or exploitation licence holders must pay royalties to the government in addition to the state right (see Question 7, Fees). The rate is one eighth of the value of the oil/gas extracted. Royalties are calculated on the net price after deducting expenditure (that is, income tax, corporate tax, other applicable taxes and charges, and so on) from the market price of the extracted oil/gas.

 

Transfer of rights

10. How are oil and gas rights transferred? Are there any restrictions on the disposal of interests?

The transfer of rights for upstream oil and gas activities is mainly governed by Articles 35 and 36 of the Petroleum Law and Article 46 of the Petroleum Bye-Law published in the Official Gazette No. 20224, dated 17 July 1989.

The rights that enable legal entities to engage in performing upstream oil and gas activities must be registered in the oil registry kept by GDPA. For the transfer, sale or mortgage of exploration and operation licences and certificates, the transaction must be accepted by GDPA in advance and registered in GDPA's registry. The following documents and information must be filed with GDPA for the transfer of rights:

  • Registration number of the right holder.

  • Details of the right held and the transfer request.

  • Detailed information about the transaction.

  • Name, number and mark. These files are kept by GDPA. The file is the original track record of the licence holder, which also includes maps and drawings. The mark is used to indicate special areas on the map that contain information about the transferor and transferee.

The evaluation of transfer requests is under the sole discretion of GDPA. However, GDPA decisions can be challenged before the administrative courts by persons with legitimate interests.

Midstream and downstream oil and gas activities can be performed if and to the extent that the relevant licences are obtained from EMRA. Licences cannot be transferred (Article 5, Natural Gas Market Licensing Regulation and Article 5, Petroleum Market Licensing Regulation). However, if banks and/or finance institutions provide limited or irrevocable project financing to the related licensee, within the scope of their loan agreements, the related banks and/or finance institutions may request EMRA to grant the licence to another legal entity. Justification of this request must be given to EMRA. The proposed new legal entity is granted the related licence on condition that it satisfies regulatory requirements (Article 42, Natural Gas Market Licensing Regulation; Article 5, Natural Gas Market Licensing Regulation and Article 5, Petroleum Market Licensing Regulation).

 

Transportation by pipeline

11. What regulatory requirements apply to the construction and operation of pipelines?

Construction and operation of pipelines require the grant of licences including but not limited to:

  • A licence issued by EMRA or GDPA, as the case may be.

  • A construction licence issued by the relevant municipality.

  • An environmental impact assessment (EIA) decision released by the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning.

Although these are the material ones, there are several administrative and environmental permits that are required to be obtained by the investors.

 
12. Is there a system of third party access to pipelines and other infrastructure?

The essential facilities doctrine is applicable in Turkey. Access to the network and infrastructure is considered as one of the crucial elements to ensure sustainable competition in Turkey. In the natural gas market, Regulation Concerning the Natural Gas Market Grid Operation, which is being applied by EMRA, mainly governs the access to network. Accordingly, the grid operator and distribution companies are to ensure the access to the network unless there is enough capacity.

 

Health, safety and the environment

Health and safety

13. Describe the health and safety regime that applies to oil and gas exploration and extraction, and transportation by pipeline.

Exploration

The health and safety regime that applies to oil and gas exploration is similar to that as applies to extraction (see below, Extraction).

Extraction

Employers must take all necessary measures and provide all necessary equipment to maintain safety at their workplaces (Article 77, Labour Law No. 4857 published in the Official Gazette No. 25134, dated 10 June 2003 (Labour Law)). A lack of health and safety measures or equipment in cases of work accidents can lead to employer liability.

In addition to the Labour Law, the Labour Health and Safety Law No. 6331 published in the Official Gazette No. 28339, dated 30 June 2012 (Health and Safety Law), governs the health and safety standards that must be implemented by employers in Turkey. The Health and Safety Law introduces several new concepts and additional obligations to employers in relation to occupational health and safety related issues in light of international standards for example, the International Labour Organization Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention 2006 (No. 187).

A workplace with 50 or more employees must have a health unit that includes a doctor and a nurse or health personnel (Article 81, Labour Law and Article 5, Regulation on the Workplace Health Units, Working Methods and Duties of Workplace Physicians, published in the Official Gazette No. 25318, dated 16 December 2003 (Workplace Health Units Regulation)). In addition, there must be at least one or more engineer and/or technical assistant employed as a work health and safety expert in each workplace. Non-compliance with these requirements can result in an administrative fine of TRY1,358.

Oil and gas activities also fall within the scope of the Regulation Concerning Heavy and Dangerous Works published in the Official Gazette No. 25494, dated 16 June 2004. Women and young workers (under the age of 18 years) cannot be employed in oil and gas extraction activities (Article 4, Regulation Concerning Heavy and Dangerous Works published in the Official Gazette No. 25494, dated 16 June 2004).

Operators must select the most adequate engineering and control system to minimise chemical material output that could endanger workers and the environment (Article 8, Regulation Concerning the Health and Safety Precautions to be taken for the Works with Chemical Materials published in the Official Gazette No. 25328, dated 26 December 2003).

Transportation

Transportation is mainly regulated by Article 5 of Law No. 5312 Concerning the Principles of Emergency Response and Compensation for Damages in Pollution of Marine Environment by Oil and Other Harmful Substances published in the Official Gazette No. 25752, dated 11 March 2005 (Law No. 5312). As Turkey is a party to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), the safety rules of Law No. 5312, which must be applied during the transportation of oil and gas, are based on MARPOL and other international conventions to which Turkey is a party, for example, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.

Ships with foreign flags carrying oil and/or other noxious substances are subject to Law No. 5312.

Ships that fail to show internationally recognised documents to prove their compliance with navigation, life, property, and environment safety standards as set by international conventions signed by Turkey will not be allowed to (Article 5, Law No. 5312):

  • Enter Turkish inland waters or territorial waters to access Turkish inland waters.

  • Call at a place of anchorage or port outside the inland waters.

In addition, ships will not be allowed enter if there is clear evidence of failure to comply with these standards. Exceptions are made in cases of force majeure (for example, life rescue services).

Any ship that enters these areas in breach of international safety standards will be either (Article 5, Law No. 5312):

  • Immediately expelled.

  • Allowed a maximum period of 30 days to comply with standards.

Ships and other sea vessels must inform public authorities of dangerous materials they carry and any risk of pollution (Implementation Regulation of Law No. 5312 published in the Official Gazette No. 26150, dated 26 April 2006).

Additionally, Law No. 4586 Concerning the Transit Pass of Oil Through Pipelines published in the Official Gazette No. 24094, dated 29 June 2000, regulates the transit pass of the oil and gas. The law basically aims at structuring of the transit pass, including transit pass issues based on international treaties. The transit pass in this law is subject to the authorisation certificate issued by MENR (Article 3-4, Law No. 4586).

Other

For midstream and downstream oil and gas activities, market players must also act in accordance with health and safety requirements established by EMRA (Article 3, Petroleum Market Law and Article 4, Natural Gas Market Law).

 

Flares and vents

14. Are flare and vent regulations in place?

All necessary ventilation systems must be in place together with other global safety precautions.

 

Environmental impact assessments (EIAs)

15. Is an EIA required before extracting or processing oil and gas?

An EIA is required for extraction of crude oil of 500 tonnes per day and extraction of natural gas of 500,000 cubic metres per day (Article 7 and Annex I, Environmental Impact Assessment Regulation published in the Official Gazette No. 26939, dated 17 July 2008 (EIA Regulation)). In addition, an EIA is required for transportation of oil or gas with 600 millimetre calibre pipes that are longer than 40 kilometres.

 
16. What are the different stages of the EIA?

Facilities can be subject to different EIA processes (that is, EIA affirmative approvals or decisions that an EIA is not required) depending on their size, type, capacity and possible impacts on the environment (Article 6 and 7, EIA Regulation).

Facilities that can have an adverse impact on the environment must obtain an EIA affirmative approval after successful completion of an EIA process. Within the EIA process, the following occurs:

  • A local public hearing meeting is held.

  • A particular format is prepared for the facility's EIA report by taking the views of the public into account.

  • The EIA report is prepared based on this particular format.

  • The EIA report is evaluated and amended, if deemed necessary, by a commission formed by the relevant public entities (that is, academics at the presidency of the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning (Çevre ve Şehircilik Bakanlığı)).

  • The Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning issues the EIA affirmative approval after the EIA report is finalised and the commission finds the facility's establishment and operation appropriate.

Facilities that have less adverse impact on the environment must obtain a decision that an EIA is not required in order to start operation. The decision that an EIA is not required is issued by the provincial division of the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning following review of the project description report. However, if these facilities receive a decision that an EIA is required, which means that their effects on the environment may be important, they must complete the EIA process (see above). In this case an EIA affirmative approval is required to start operation.

 

Environmental permits

17. Is there a permit regime for environmental damage or emissions produced during the extraction or processing of oil and gas?

Extraction of oil or gas is subject to a large number of permits and approvals under environmental and permitting legislation.

Legal entities that are granted a licence from GDPA can perform extraction activities (see Question 5). In addition to the licence, legal entities must also adhere to the following regime, among others, as applicable:

  • Legal entities must obtain a construction licence and occupancy certificate from the relevant municipality for their extraction activities (Articles 21 and 30, Zoning Law No. 3194). Workplaces cannot begin their activities without a workplace opening and operating permit from the authorities (Article 6, Work Place Operating Permit Regulation).

    In addition, workplaces with more than 50 employees must obtain a certificate for operation. Regulation Concerning Certificate for Operation published in the Official Gazette No. 27422, dated 4 December 2009 (Labour Law and the Certificate for Operation Regulation) provides necessary guidance for obtaining this permit. A separate permit is required for each workplace.

    The certificate for operation is issued by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to workplaces that have taken all necessary health and safety measures (see Question 13) and it does not have an expiration date. Failure to obtain it may cause partial or full suspension of the workplace if the health and safety requirements in that workplace are not met. However, if all requirements are met, the operation of the facilities is not suspended and only an administrative penalty can be imposed.

  • Operators of industrial facilities must take all necessary precautions to prevent disasters (for example an explosion, zone fire or a large emission) and if they fail to prevent, they must minimise the environmental impacts of these disasters (Article 6, Regulation Concerning the Prevention of Major Industrial Disasters published in the Official Gazette No. 27676, dated 18 August 2010). Operators must prepare a security report and file it with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. The security report must contain the names of the staff responsible for precautions and supervision of these precautions. The security report briefly explains the equipment and facilities to be utilised during the course of any disaster and instructions that must be followed.

  • Operators must make a risk assessment and prepare a document that indicates the precautions to prevent explosions and maintain prevention of explosions in the workplace (Article 6, Regulation Concerning the Protection of Workers from the Negative Impacts of the Explosive Platforms, which was issued based on the European Union Directive no. 1999/92/EC, published in the Official Gazette No. 25328, dated 26 December 2003).

  • It is a prerequisite that companies must obtain an integrated permit (environmental permit) before starting operation (Article 4, Environmental Permits and Licences Regulation published in the Official Gazette No. 27503, dated 24 February 2010). Crude oil extraction activities with the capacity of 500 tonnes per day and natural gas extraction activities with the capacity of 500,000 cubic metres per day must also have an environmental permit (Annex 1, Environmental Permits and Licences Regulation published in the Official Gazette No. 27503, dated 24 February 2010).

 

Waste

18. What are the regulations on the disposal of waste products resulting from oil or gas extraction or processing?

Municipalities have authority over management of solid waste (Article 14, Municipality Law No. 5393 published in the Official Gazette No. 25874, dated 13 July 2005). However, municipalities can delegate authority over package waste, dangerous and medical waste to real or legal persons through a public tender organised under the applicable tender legislation. These real or legal persons can then carry out these activities when they receive an environmental permit from the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning.

Municipalities also have authority to:

  • Determine waste management plans.

  • Issue relevant zoning permits for the establishment of waste disposal facilities and landfill areas.

  • Ensure that licensed companies carry out waste management activities according to applicable legislation.

There are separate pieces of legislation governing waste management activities for certain type of waste (for example, dangerous waste, medical waste, package waste, oil waste, waste batteries, life-expired tires and electrical equipment). Natural and legal persons that engage in waste management activities for this waste must comply with all procedures, and administrative and technical requirements set out in relevant legislation.

 

Decommissioning

19. What are the decommissioning obligations and liabilities that arise?

The legislation is silent on the decommissioning requirements. Nonetheless, the crucial obligation of the relevant market players is to comply with the environmental rules not to endanger the society and environment.

 

Sale and trade

20. How is trade in oil and gas usually completed?

Trade in crude oil in Turkey can only be by and between refineries and producers. Trade in fuel oil (that is, processed crude oil) can only be by distributor licence holders and their dealers under the Petroleum Market Law (Article 7, Petroleum Market Law).

Legal entities that extract gas can trade the gas provided they are granted a wholesale licence from EMRA.

 
21. Are oil and gas prices regulated?

Pricing for the purchase and sale of oil must be established according to the nearest accessible global free market conditions (Article 10, Petroleum Market Law).

Domestic

For domestic crude oil, the accepted price is the market price established at the nearest delivery port or refinery. This market price is accepted as the exact applied crude oil sales price.

The market price is calculated as the free competitive price adjusted for quality and specific gravity (density) of crude oil within Turkey or in the nearest accessible world market plus half of the expenses that would be incurred in transporting the same quality of crude oil from world markets to a delivery point in Turkey. Suez Channel crossing and Batman-Dörtyol pipeline fees are not included in the calculation.

The price for oil extracted in and around Batman (the Batman Refinery is the first refinery built in Turkey in 1955) is the market price calculated at Batman or the actual sales price applied at a delivery point in Turkey by the producer excluding taxes. This is also the price applied if no accessible world market price is established.

Import

Imported crude oil prices are obtained under oil agreements made in line with globally announced prices and spot market values. Information on actual imports must be submitted to EMRA every month.

For midstream and downstream oil market activities, the prices are fixed by the free market depending on the commercial decisions of the fuel oil distributor and dealership licence holders. Refineries and distributor licence holders must notify EMRA of their ceiling price. In addition, storage tariffs of market players and the transmission tariff of BOTAŞ are subject to EMRA approval.

For midstream and downstream gas market activities the following are regulated by EMRA (Article 11, Natural Gas Market Law and Tariff Regulation):

  • Connection tariffs.

  • Tariffs in relation to transmission and shipment.

  • Storage tariffs.

  • Wholesale tariffs.

  • Retail tariffs.

 

Tax

22. What are the main tax issues arising on oil and gas works?

Taxation of oil and gas activities are governed by different pieces of legislation and each activity or investment must be examined on a case by case basis; therefore, the following should not be taken as tax advice.

Oil and gas companies are subject to the same general taxes as other corporate entities (for example, corporation tax, value added tax (VAT), consumption tax, dividend tax and payroll tax).

 
23. What taxes and duties apply on import and export of oil and gas?

Legal entities that are entitled to operate under the Petroleum Law can import the following for their operations free of customs and other import taxes:

  • Materials.

  • Fuel.

  • Land, sea or air transport vehicles.

This applies only if and to the extent that these items are considered necessary by GDPA and they are used exclusively for oil and gas operations. This incentive does not apply to materials related to the construction, installation and operation of the right holders' building facilities and equipment, and to their administrative activities. These incentives apply until the end of 2020.

Rights holders under the Petroleum Law can import crude oil that cannot be supplied from domestic sources and that is necessary for their market operations at the market price and free of customs and other import taxes.

Imported goods and services are subject to VAT. However, a VAT exemption is available for exploration, for which the following applies:

  • It is only applied to exploration licence holder companies or to their contractors.

  • It must only be used for exploration expenses.

  • The VAT exemption owner must apply to GDPA each time he purchases equipment within the scope of VAT.

After a corporate branch is established and registered, the oil right holder or its contractors can apply to GDPA for a VAT exemption for the branch and/or for the contractor.

If and to the extent that all applicable taxes, dues, charges, state right payments and royalties are excluded, an oil right holder may, without paying tax, transfer abroad cash funds and rights and other assets in relation to its operations (Article 115, Petroleum Law).

 

Enforcement of regulation

24. What are the regulator's enforcement powers?

Orders

If GDPA considers that waste or an unsafe act is taking place in connection with an oil operation, it will direct the person committing that waste or unsafe act to stop and to repair and rectify the damage caused within a reasonable time (Article 128-131, Petroleum Law). If the order to repair and rectify is not complied with within the specified time, GDPA will have the damage repaired and rectified at the cost of the oil right holder and take precautionary measures to stop waste or unsafe acts.

If GDPA considers that waste or an unsafe act that can cause or is likely to cause serious and irreparable damage is taking place in or in connection with an oil operation, it can:

  • Seize wells and installations.

  • Take all measures it deems necessary to stop the damage, including the suspension of operations, at the expense of the person committing the waste or unsafe act.

GDPA will request compliance within 90 days if an oil right holder fails to comply with either:

  • The Petroleum Law and/or regulations or decrees and orders issued based on it.

  • One of the written conditions of its exploration licence, operation licence and certificate.

If the right holder fails to comply within the 90-day period it can result in either:

  • Temporary suspension of operations covered by its exploration licence, operation licence and certificate.

  • Immediate cancellation of operations.

If despite the warning the failure continues after the 90-day period either of the following can happen:

  • The operations can be temporarily suspended for a period of no less than 90 days but no more than 180 days.

  • GDPA can suggest to MENR to immediately cancel the exploration licence, operation licence and certificate.

Law No. 6183 on the Collection of Public Debts applies if an oil right holder fails to perform any of his state financial obligations. Accordingly, the payment notice is directly sent by the tax authorities and an injunction relief decision can be issued to restrict the right of disposal of the debtor.

Fines and penalties

If oil and gas right holders under the Petroleum Law cause damage to the environment or death or injury of a third person during their activities, GDPA gives a cure period to remedy the activity that caused damage (Article 125, Petroleum Law). If the right holders fail to remedy within this period, they are subject to an administrative fine of TRY5,000 per day. If any damage occurs due to the right holders' activities that cannot be recovered, the right holders are subject to an administrative fine equivalent to the amount of the damage. The minimum fine is TRY10,000. There is no maximum limit. However, it is subject to the principle of proportionality.

EMRA can levy fines of between TRY1,358 and TRY815,555 for activities that breach the Petroleum Market Law and the Natural Gas Market Law (Article 19, Petroleum Market Law and Article 9 of the Natural Gas Market Law). In addition, EMRA can cancel licences depending on the severity of the breach. Under Turkish law, oil smuggling is also punishable with imprisonment of two to five years (Additional Article 5, Petroleum Market Law).

Other

Persons who engage in geological enrichment activities such as drilling without permission are subject to imprisonment of up to six months (Article 124, Petroleum Law). This imprisonment can be converted into a fine, the amount of which is determined by a criminal judge under his sole discretion. In addition, if a person engages in exploration and operation activities without a licence from GDPA, he is subject to imprisonment of from three months to one year along with a fine, the amount of which is determined by a criminal judge at his sole discretion.

If anyone intentionally hinders the utilisation of oil and gas rights protected by the Petroleum Law, he is subject to imprisonment of up to six months (Article 126, Petroleum Law). This imprisonment can be converted into a fine, the amount of which is determined by a judge at his sole discretion.

Applicants who have provided misleading information or documents to GDPA are subject to imprisonment of from six months to two years (Article 127, Petroleum Law). This imprisonment can be converted into a fine, the amount of which is determined by a judge at his sole discretion. In this case, MENR can cancel any right granted by GDPA to that person on the basis of the misleading information supplied.

 
25. Is there a right of appeal against the regulator's decisions?

Any and all administrative acts including administrative fines by Turkish governmental authorities are subject to judicial review (Article 125, Constitution). Administrative acts can, in principle, be challenged within 60 days of notification before administrative courts by individuals or legal entities that have a legitimate interest.

 

Reform

26. Are there plans for changes to the legal and regulatory framework?

The Turkish Parliament adopted the Turkish Petroleum Law No. 5574 on 17 January 2007 (Turkish Petroleum Law), which aimed to repeal the existing Petroleum Law. The main purpose of the Turkish Petroleum Law was to:

  • Decrease state involvement in oil and gas production.

  • Reduce the amount of royalties that must be paid to the government.

  • Enable the sale of all oil and gas extracted in Turkey.

However, the President vetoed certain provisions of the Turkish Petroleum Law and a new draft law is still under debate in the Turkish Parliament.

 

The regulatory authority

Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MENR) (Enerji ve Tabii Kaynaklar Bakanliği) (ETKB)

Address. Türk Ocağı Caddesi No. 2, Çankaya, Ankara, Turkey
T + 90 312 212 6420
F + 90 312 222 5760
E bilgi@enerji.gov.tr
W www.enerji.gov.tr

MENR is responsible for preparing and implementing energy policies, plans and programmes in co-ordination with its affiliated institutions.

General Directorate of Petroleum Affairs (GDPA) (Petrol İşleri Genel Müdürlüğü) (PİGM)

Address. Eskişehir Yolu 7 km No. 166, Çankaya, Ankara, Turkey
T + 90 312 219 8112
F + 90 312 219 8105
E pigm@pigm.gov.tr
W www.pigm.gov.tr

GDPA, affiliated with MENR, is responsible for regulating upstream oil and gas activities.

Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA) (Enerji Piyasası Düzenleme Kurumu) (EPDK)

Address. İşçi Blokları Mahallesi Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu Caddesi, (Eski 1483 Cd) No. 51/C 06530, Yüzüncüyıl, Çankaya, Ankara, Turkey
T + 90 312 201 4001
F + 90 312 201 4050
W www.epdk.gov.tr

EMRA is responsible for regulation and supervision of midstream and downstream oil and gas market activities in a competitive environment. EMRA is authorised to:

  • Issue secondary legislation (regulations and communiqués) concerning midstream and downstream activities.
  • Issue licences to legal entities to perform these activities.
  • Apply sanctions if necessary.


Online resources

W www.enerji.gov.tr

Description. This is the official website of MENR. The official language is Turkish. There is an English version that includes certain parts of the website. Translations on the site and the English version of the site are not binding.

W www.pigm.gov.tr

Description. This is the official website of GDPA. The official language is Turkish. There is an English version that includes certain parts of the website. Translations on the site and the English version of the site are not binding.

W www.epdk.gov.tr

Description. This is the English version of the official website of EMRA. The official language is Turkish. The English version includes certain parts of the official Turkish website. Translations on the site and the English version of the site are not binding.

W www.euas.gov.tr

Description. This is the official website of the state-owned electricity generation company (EÜAŞ). The official language is Turkish. There is an English version that includes certain parts of the website. Translations on the site and the English version of the site are not binding.

W www.csb.gov.tr

Description. This is the official website of the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning. The official language is Turkish. There is an English version that includes certain parts of the website. Translations on the site and the English version of the site are not binding.



Contributor profile

Cem Çağatay Orak, Partner

Çakmak Avukatlık Bürosu

T +90 312 442 4680
F +90 312 442 4690
E c.orak@cakmak.av.tr
W www.cakmak.av.tr

Professional qualifications. Ankara Bar Association, Turkey, 2002

Areas of practice. Administrative law; administrative litigation; power; regulatory bodies; construction law; arbitration.

Non-professional qualifications. LLB, Ankara University, 2001; LLM in Administrative Law, Ankara University, 2005; PhD in Administrative Law, Ankara University, 2011

Languages. Turkish and English

Professional associations/memberships. Turkish Bar Associations Union, 2002.

Publications

  • Arbitration in the Public Service of Concession Contracts (Book), Dayinlarli Publishing, Ankara, 2005.
  • Application of Competition Rules to the Public Services and State Owned Companies (Book), Çakmak Publishing, Ankara, 2011.
  • Public Establishments and the Principle of Speciality, (in) Gazi University Faculty of Law Review, October 2012, Vol: 16, Issue: 4, p. 265-302.

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