Foreign Ministers are preferred to be graduates of International Politics of reputable universities, with further postgraduate degrees in the same field with multi language capabilities. Our former FM was a perfect choice due to his extraordinary university career. Likewise, our former Minister in charge of Treasury is another good choice with his graduate GPA 4:00 from METU Industrial engineering department which was further reinforced with MBA degree from a reputable USA Business school.
On the other hand, anyone can be chosen as Minister of Energy and Natural Resources in our country. Reputable names of our political environment with post graduate degrees from Ankara University Department of Political Science are assigned as Ministers of Energy in the past. No one asks "Why? Are they capable?"
Even a lawyer was chosen as a Minister of Energy for three consecutive terms. During his term, we had arbitration disputes, and we paid the consequences costly. During their period, they learnt energy business, but it is proved that this is a very costly education on job.
One of our former Energy Minister had post graduate degree from METU Metallurgy Department. He knew metals, mining, metallurgy, and he had time to consume six years learn energy business in detail during his management.
Your writer strongly advises that Minister of Energy should have an engineering degree. He should also speak a foreign language, preferably English, furthermore his knowledge in Russian, Farsi, Arabic, and/or French is a plus. It is also preferable that he had post graduate degree in international politics, and international commercial law.
The most important item is that he should have taken undergraduate course on Thermodynamics and passed with top grade.
Our former Energy Minister is also a graduate of Istanbul Technical University and had Graduate degree from EE department, and he had compulsory Thermodynamics courses during his undergraduate years for sure.
Energy Ministry is a public institution to serve but not a school nor a university. Any public employee, at all levels should have had sufficient graduate education. We should not reeducate the newcomers that "volt" is not "watt", there is no such expression as "teravolt", and "Megabyte" is not "Mega-Watt".
We should not teach them the differences between power plants, CFB, IGCC, nor details of Kyoto- Paris- Marrakesh protocols on global warming, climate change. They should know that Nuclear Power plants are essentially thermal power plants with one cycle more in heat balance diagrams.
They should know that our country had no chance, no finance, no capability to build her own thermal power plants but all small East European countries did. Now Far East companies appeared to build new imported coal firing thermal power plants on our shores at a fraction of international markets turnkey basis, complete with basic design, fabrication, outsourcing the key equipment, site construction, site installation, and even long-term operation. Far East companies (China, Korean, Taiwanese) can not supply thermal power plants to developed countries, since they can not meet stiff norms, standards, laws and regulations of the buyer countries, despite of their ultra cheap prices. So cheap price is not the final solution.
One should know that we could not have our own nuclear power plant for last 40 years, since we could not build our own thermal power plants during the same period under our own engineering capability.
While we have unemployment complaints, how come we tolerate Far East companies bringing their own employees, mostly convicts/ soldiers, at minimum labor cost. It is not possible in Europe, Northern America, Russia, in Arab Countries.
European countries require the foreign contractors to pay the minimum wage in European standards to their employees. That makes the competition fair. Our name is in the reference list of Far East contractors along with the least developed countries such as Sri Lanka / Bangladesh / Pakistan / Laos / Vietnam / Malaysia / Indonesia/ Central Africa / Sudan / Yemen. That is a real embarrassment if not an honor to be in those lists.
If you can handle the basic design engineering and can do your own outsourcing, make the site construction in-house, use your local capabilities for site installation and external piping, under the prevailing international market figures, you can reduce your overall investment cost by about 25-30%.
Far East companies deliver technical drawing in their own language except the simple title block. Our engineers can not read them. Investors do not want to take operation risk. The new tendency is in making long-term operation contracts with the original contractors. So local employment will be limited to the security posts at the main entrance of the plant.
European Trade unions protect the rights of their members. They also protect the local employment capabilities with requirements to meet their national standards, norms, regulations. Their political parties are very sensitive in these issues since they can not risk upsetting their voters; otherwise they pay the consequence heavily.
If local trade unions can not voice on these issues, then it becomes the responsibility of Chambers of Engineers to speak up on behalf of local engineering for employment protection.
When we review the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports, other than flora and fauna and all that unnecessary details, we read that the investment would create so many numbers of local employments. You feel happy that our countrymen will have employment; we shall have so many families and their dependents to get money to survive.
When we complete the EIA report, and accept their application, we find ourselves that the investor places the final order to a Far East originated cheap design/ cheap supplier/ cheap contractor, and that cheap contractor brings thousands of employees (or convicts/ soldiers) to our land. That power plant supply has also short lifespan due to poor material consumed during project, just to survive in the temporary acceptance period.
We should have continuous monitoring of Environmental Impact Assessment conditions during all phases of the project as well as periodical inspections during operation. That is very serious issue. We have now unnecessary number of license applications for construction imported coal firing new thermal power plants.
Do we have capability to have all of them on our beautiful shores?? Do we need them all?? How will they control their stack emissions, CO2 emissions, fly-ash dust emissions, slug disposal? To what standards, EU or Local? Shouldn't we have some reasonable limitations in numbers and capacities? Should we approve them all?
Energy is a very serious business. It is vital for the people. We should take very seriously all those regulating procedures starting from licensing, continued in financing, tendering, environmental controls, construction and long-term operations. We need qualified, experienced, highly educated public staff to monitor all these serious activities. Honestly speaking, if your writer were your Editor in a leading Newspaper on nationwide circulation, he would have never allowed any columnist to write an article if he had not got any education in Thermodynamics in his/her undergrad university education.
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.