ISSN 2330-717X

Enron In Turkey, 1990-1998 – OpEd

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US investor ENRON together with a local company, built a combined cycle power plant with 478 MWe capacity burning natural gas in Trakya Tekirdağ coast during a 26-month project period between 1996-1998. The managers of our local contracting company gave us clear instructions. “Do not undertake unnecessary commitment to expedite the work. Give the bureaucracy what document they want, prepare and submit the document, and wait for the result.” Our duty as local partner was to make the necessary bureaucratic applications, to obtain necessary permits, to organize joint meetings with the bureaucracy, to make site civil constructions after the work started, to manufacture non-pressurized parts, to assemble in the field.

At that time, our new Turkish American joint venture company was established. We had obtained all types of industrial and large capacity steam boiler licenses. We had very new developed waste heat boiler technology. We had North-American design of horizontal pass natural circulation fired/ unfired waste heat boilers. Gas turbine capacity was rapidly rising, we were making new designs with supplementary fuel or non-fuel waste heat boilers to be installed behind GE, Siemens, Mitsubishi gas turbines. We could not have JV in the new investment. It was another project. American investor company has prepared feasibility files sent us them to present to the bureaucracy. Our local project manager engineer, who was responsible for this project, has placed those thick files on the shelves in his room.

Can we get the waste heat boiler order in this project? One day I went to project manager’s room. I requested permission to review three large folder of project feasibility files. He put the files in front of me, said, “Just read, do not make copies, do not take notes, and leave the documents on the shelf”

I opened the files with great curiosity. There were standard explanation notes, index – contents, definitions, project description, equipment presentations. Field geological conditions, meteorological records, fuel line and electricity transmission information were compiled from local sources. It appeared that all information were transferred from another project in their hands in copy and paste. Large gas turbines – steam turbines catalogs were added to all available information.

As for the work waste heat boilers, there was no detail. Just general information were presented. What are the general technical explanations? How does it work? The big three big folders were empty in detail. These loose documents with limited information were copied at each meeting, prepared in fancy covers and presented for the new participants, but there were limited information inside for waste heat boilers.

The last section was full of payback period, return on investment, sensitivity calculations for different scenarios. The project received clearance permissions over time with those information. 500 million US Dollars Project Financing was provided. Interviews, meetings, permits were completed. Gas – steam turbines were ordered. Since it was full US project finance, the waste heat boilers came from the United States. The steam drums had found scales in quality control applications and repaired in place. The US engineering firm has applied the general layout of another similar project to our site. However, in our topography, there were heights in the project field, the unnecessary pumping system caused too much internal loss of 2-Mwe because the boiler, fuel tanks and water tanks that placed above these elevations. Anyway, the job was completed. A 20-year contract was signed with the Ministry with the guarantee of electricity purchase and natural gas sales. The project paid itself back in the next 3-years as expected.

The name of the foreign US company was plagued with the financial scandal, the foreign company bankrupt, withdrew from the market. All shares were remained with the local partner. In year 2012, The partners sold the plant for 400 million US Dollars to the Russian company InterRao that supplied natural gas. The Russian company changed all the staff. The plant is still running. It produces electricity. The purchase/ sales guarantee period is over.

Project development is a long process. Anyhow everything is good, if it ends good for all parties. Enron has a success story in Turkey.

If you have any comments, information, annotations, corrections on this project in mind, I’d be glad to receive it. We shall continue to tell the unofficial history of the Turkish energy markets.

Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

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