US embassy cable - 03ANKARA1390

GOT PRESSES BOT COMPANIES TO CUT PRICES

Identifier: 03ANKARA1390
Wikileaks: View 03ANKARA1390 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Ankara
Created: 2003-03-04 15:31:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
Tags: EINV ENRG ECON PREL TU
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 001390 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
 
STATE FOR E, EB/IFD, AND EUR/SE 
DEPARTMENT PASS OPIC FOR ZAHNISER AND MAHAFFEY 
NSC FOR BRYZA AND QUANRUD 
USDOC FOR 4212/ITA/MAC/OEURA/CPD/DDEFALCO 
USDOC FOR 6110/TD/BI/OEIM/MBEEMAN 
USDOE FOR PUMPHREY/ROSSI 
TREASURY FOR OASIA 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/04/2013 
TAGS: EINV, ENRG, ECON, PREL, TU 
SUBJECT: GOT PRESSES BOT COMPANIES TO CUT PRICES 
 
 
REF: ANKARA 8594 ,02 
 
 
Classified by ECON Couns Scot Marciel, reasons 1.5 (b,d). 
 
 
1. (C) Summary:  Energy Minister Guler has asked the BOT 
projects to cut their electricity tariffs, which are set in 
the companies, contracts with the Ministry of Energy (MENR). 
 The BOTs, which include U.S.-owned companies Trakya Elektrik 
(Enron) and Doga Enerji (Edison Mission), have informed the 
Minister in writing that they are not prepared to change 
their contracts.  MENR officials argue that the BOT prices 
are too high; the companies counter that their prices 
accurately reflect the risks and costs assumed at the time of 
their investment.  Post will continue to emphasize to the GOT 
the importance of contract sanctity.  End summary. 
 
 
2. (C) Minister of Energy Guler called in the BOT projects 
February 6, including U.S.-owned companies Trakya Elektrik 
(Enron) and Doga Enerji (Edison Mission), and U.K.-Japanese 
owned Uni-Mar.  As the BOT companies had anticipated 
(reftel), the purpose of the meeting was to ask the companies 
to cut their electricity prices.  Representatives from all 
three projects told econoff that Minister Guler,s basic 
message was:  "We think your tariffs -- and your profits -- 
are too high.  The contracts are onerous and unfair.  You 
have already earned a profit; therefore, even if you don,t 
earn another cent on this project it will have been 
profitable for your company.  Turkey is suffering from these 
contracts and we ask that your company make a "gesture" to 
make the contracts more fair." 
 
 
3. (C) Two company representatives told econoff the Minister 
went so far as to make what they considered to be veiled 
threats if they did not make a "gesture."  Guler noted that 
the companies still needed to obtain operating licenses from 
the Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA), and he "was 
not sure how difficult that would be."  The Minister 
reportedly also stated that there was pressure for him to 
open an investigation on these contracts, which he "hoped he 
would not have to do."  Company reps said that, although they 
did not respond to these comments during their meeting, they 
were one hundred percent confident that their contracts -- 
which had reviewed and approved by five GOT agencies -- were 
rock solid, had been awarded fairly, and met all 
international standards. 
 
 
4. (C) Doga, Trakya, and Uni-Mar have all responded to the 
Minister,s request in writing, informing him that they would 
not be able to comply with his request and they could not 
change the terms of the contract.  One rep suggested to 
econoff that they had entered the meeting willing to be 
somewhat flexible, perhaps by decreasing the price by one 
cent per kilowatt hour (kWh).  However, he said, it soon 
became clear that Minister Guler was looking for a cut in the 
range of 4-5 cents/kWh in the tariff, which was far beyond 
what was possible.  One BOT rep had explained in the meeting 
that by cutting the tariff to that extent, the company could 
not meet its debt obligations.  He said the Minister seemed 
to believe the companies could use past profits -- already 
paid out to shareholders as dividends -- to pay off lenders, 
and therefore earn no further profit on the project. 
 
 
5. (C) Each of the BOT companies defends their tariff rates, 
which are currently in the range of 10-12 cents/kWh, with the 
following arguments: 
 
 
-- The average electricity price through 2019/2020 (when the 
plants will transfer to the GOT) is actually a reasonable 6-7 
cents/kWh, due to a stair-step pricing structure set out in 
the contracts. 
-- The BOT companies entered the Turkish market in the early 
1990,s, when risks were higher, power plant equipment 
construction costs were higher, and the cost of investment 
capital was greater. 
-- The GOT cannot simply force contractual changes whenever 
it believes a company has earned too much profit. 
 
 
6. (C) For now, the companies report, they have no intention 
in changing their position.  Each of their contracts has a 
"buy-out" clause, under which the GOT can purchase the plants 
under certain conditions.  Trakya and Doga reps have told 
econoff that, although it is not their preference, they could 
eventually enter into buyout negotiations with the Ministry 
of Energy. 
 
 
7. (C) Comment:  As noted reftel, AK has made cutting 
electricity prices a top priority; hence the pressure on the 
BOTs.  However, high prices are not only a result of the BOT 
plants -- the high price BOTAS pays and charges for gas, 
inefficient distribution networks, and low bill collection 
rates are also important factors.  Although we recognize the 
GOT,s right to try to renegotiate the BOT contracts, we 
oppose any effort to force contractual changes.  Not only 
could such an effort result in legal questions, it would 
likely have a lasting, negative impact on the investment 
climate in Turkey.  Post understands that an OPIC 
representative will meet with EMRA President Yusuf Gunay this 
week in Houston to discuss this issue; we will continue to 
follow up with GOT officials here.  End comment. 
PEARSON 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04