Sunday, November 18, 2018


My Mother, Turkish Literature teacher Ayse Hadiye Direskeneli lost her life on November 13, 2018 at 0700 hours, due to multiple organ failure. She is buried in Üsküdar KaracaAhmet cemetery the next day. Rest in peace.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Metsamor 1976

Metsamor nuclear power plant, 1976
Metsamor nuclear power plant is in Armenia within 16 km of Turkish border and almost 25 km from Yerevan. It is the VVER-440 type, 2x408 mwe. Unit 1 in 1976, 2nd unit entered into operation in 1980. The plant worked for many years. Finally, their economic life is over.
Your author was in Metsamor in 1976, within the framework of the United Nations Development Program, Unido. He was in Moscow for 3-month training. There were 40 young engineers from Africa, South America and Far East countries who joined the program. People from 40 different countries, 40 different cultures, gathered together.
In the last month of their stay in Moscow, the program manager said, "Get prepared, we have a very new nuclear power plant, we are conducting a trial operation, and we shall visit there". We had an airplane flight from Moscow to Yerevan in a low-altitude 4-hour flight with a propeller. How we did it, how the ears and body endured that noise. Finally we landed at airport, we settled in the hotel of Tsardom period. From our hotel room, the mountain of Ararat appeared with all its glory, on the other side of the border.

The next morning we went to the Metzamor nuclear power plant. Metsamore sounded like a very super project at that time.
They invited us to the control room, the illuminated dashboards, a lot of lamps on the walls, TV sets, all staff dressed in protective white overalls. With a few pounds of nuclear fuel, they could supply almost all of the electricity demand of Armenia.
In my Ankara METU University education, we took course on nuclear in the senior year, but Metsamor seemed to be like a science fiction in a very distant future. Then the trip was over, the program was over. We returned home, on one side of our minds that week Metzamor nuclear power plant had remained. We didn't even go near the nucleus building, we just walked into the remote control room, we saw the remote 4-air cooling towers.
Most of the Russian staff who introduced us to the power station were very cool. We were seeing them at a very high level beside we, the stone age technology engineers, listened to what they told us like fairy tales.
The lamps in the control room, the flow charts on the wall, a few black and white TV's, they sound very primitive very simple today. We have lots of sophisticated things now in the control rooms of our local power plants.
Then years past, Metsamor power plant is now the oldest from the former Soviet period, in terms security, it is the poorest and lowest level power plant. One unit is already closed, the other one is forced to work. Plant is in the high risk earthquake zone. The waste disposal is unclear, there is no waste agreement, emergency evacuation plans are not clear. Main worn out pressure parts are outdated, they have to be changed, there is no money. The nuclear plant is in terrible condition we all know.
The Metsamor power plant VVER-440 is the same as the Chernobyl power plant which has caused technological disaster in Ukraine. There is no concrete concrete around the nuclear core. Nuclear Core is in graphite coating. 30-year before the core melting of the accident was not foreseen so concrete plus steel shields had no application.
Although the nuclear plant is still in operation, the nucleus is like a bomb. Anything can go wrong any time, and as a result of the core melting Chernobyl type radioactive material may start to crack. If there is no explosion, burning, smoke, and soil begin to radiation. Most of them is plutonium. The spread of radiation takes tens of thousands of years after half the power. Plant requires more strictly measures to control.
Russians say, "Let's demolish the existing plant completely, let's construct a new power plant at 1000 MWe". But Local people no longer accept it easily. Everyone is appealing, most of the European community is appealing, European Union tied Armenia and Georgia somehow to themselves, provided them easy visa facilitation.
For the renewal and upgrading of the Metsamor nuclear power plant, European Union has prepared a financing program of € 100m. This figure has been raised to 200m € in proportion to the gravity of the situation, but the situation is very difficult and very expensive to improve.
In 1976, we asked the managers of the plant,
"why did you build a nuclear power plant here?"
They replied,
"There is no natural resources, there is insufficient hydraulic power plant",
Now they have the most dangerous nuclear power plant in the world today. Moreover, Metsamore is in earthquake zone. They have seen earthquakes of 7-9 richter scale, three times in the last century,
the last earthquake line is passing from a distance of 75km away"
The International Atomic Energy Agency has limited measures to shut down this plant. A nuclear threat may break out at any moment. In order to shut down this plant completely, all countries need to assist and apply pressure. It is is only 16km away from Turkish eastern border. Turkish voice does not come out, neighboring Azerbaijanis are screaming at every platform, whereas most of us need to appeal.
In an unfavorable situation, we are all most affected.
On the other hand, we have to reconsider Akkuyu nuclear project with 40-year Metsamor experience. Today, against the current cheaper unit electricity prices of the renewable energy sources, Akkuyu with 15-year purchase guaranteed price of 12.35 US cents per kwh price is not economical any more, the situation looks serious.
Nuclear waste control, emergency evacuation plans, earthquake analysis, and very hot Mediterranean cooling water thermodynamic problems must be reviewed repeatedly.
Prinkipo, 2- November 2018


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), 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 ODTÜ Alumni and Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

Israel Ashdod 1990

Israel 1990, Ashdod refinery

When I was reviewing my past documentation, I found my visa paper which was issued by israel istanbul consulate in May 1990. In those years, travelling visas were issued by israel istanbul consulate not by Ankara embassy. It was given on a seperate paper. They put no stamp on my passport. At the beginning of 1990, our American parent company received an enquiry from their past client Ashdod refinery in İstael, for rehabilitation and upgrading existing 20-year old package boilers in their premises.

Wornout boiler pressure parts, seamless boiler tubes, oil burners, safety valves, pumps, control & instrumentation would be examined and then renewed if necessary. Prior to proposal preperation, we were invited to their refinery for siteseeing. Our American parent company asked our JV company to carryout that siteseeing mission and prepare a followup report to base our joint proposal. Job was given to your writer. So I applied to israel istanbul consulate for 10-day visa to visit Ashdod reflnery.

Prior to thy flight to Telaviv, I passed dould cross check interview at the airport. Two different teams asked questlons, why I was on that flight, what I was going to Telaviv, where I would stay, whan I would return, who I would visit / meet, when I would return home. They had cross checked the answers and gave the permission to fly.

After 2-hour nonstop flight, I landed in BenGurion international aiprport, almost 25-km far from Telaviv city center, between telaviv and  Jarusalem. I passed the passport and customs fast, took an airport taxi, then we arrived to Telaviv Hilton to check-in. It was a 10-storey comfortable standart business hotel on the seaside. Day was Saturday, Shabath day,  no work, complete stop on all facilities. It was almost at extremes such as elevators were stopping on all floors automatically. No use of push bottons. If you were not a jew, you could work, operate, and others could use facilities as shadows  together with you.

The next day on Sunday, the American parent company's Telaviv representatives met me at hotel breakfast lounge, then they took me to their company office on the Telaviv North industrial zone. They briefed me on Ashdod refinery, the existing facility, admistrators, decisionmakers, engineers, what they might ask, what they expected to learn. Later in the day, we had a car ride further to North to Haifa city. On a hill overlooking Haifa seaport we had dinner. On the way to Haifa we passed by an important technical university which was famous in electronics and computer sciences. We also passed by an imported coal firing thermal power plant which was built by our American parent company in the near past. Since isral could not buy oil from middle east producers, they were importing cheap coal from South Africa.

On Monday morning, our rep met me at the hotel lobby, we then drove to Ashdod refinery which was situated at the seaside almost 50-km south of Telaviv city center. Metro construction was ongoing so that city traffic was so dense. We reached to Ashdod refinery, they took us to their meeting room. Room was full of expert engineers from both genders. Number of women engineers were quite high. They were graduates of local and Western  reputable technical universities. There were a number of Turkish Jews from izmir and istanbul who ciuld speak Turkish. Anyhow we continued our communication in English.

I handed over our company documents, prior to my verbal presentation. In those days there were no laptop pc facilities, no powerpoint presantions, so I used projector and transparent slides. Package boiler presentation was and still is my expertise, so I let my soundtrack in my memory to speakup for about one hour, pros-cons, references, necessary equipment, controls and instrumentation, advantages, prices, rehab repowering, training, upgrading.

I encouraged them to ask questions. I was expecting more difficult questions, maybe they did not want to pressure me. Then we had lunch break. We had standard workplace menu, salad, soup, main course to select, vegegables, sweets, fruits, tea and coffee. I had a very possitive feeling towards Turkish people. Each engineers had a different family story to tell how they arrived to their new homeland.

They we vitited the boiler house to inspect the latest status of 25-year old package boilers, which were supplied by our Americal parent company. They were in good operating conditions, although they were too old. We had new upgrading design and better equipment to operate. Refinery administrators did not allow me to take photo pictures, although package boilers were our supply and there was no secret of the existing boilers for us. They also did not want me to take any written notes. They said, "You  already visited our facility, you keep your notes in your memory, you can write your report afterwards upon return your home office but not here". I met people but I could not get their full name nor their business cards. That was their security procedure they had to follow.

Upon return to or rep office later in the day, we had a wrap-up meeting, what we have learnt during the refinery meeting, what refinery was asking, what our proposal shoukd comprise".

On that evening, our local rep informed me that they had a classical music concert in Telaviv concert hall so that they should be there before 08:00 PM. They bought tickets months in advance. It would be a close friends gathering with their wives. So they left me a hotel, and moved to concerts. At that time Israel had 7-million popolation and they had a concert hall with 3000- audience capacity. I would be to pleased if I would also be invited to the concert.

The next day, I arrived to BenGurion international airport by taxi. I  passed through cross questioning by two different teams, one team speaking in English , the other team speaking in fluent Turkish. I had 2-hour Thy flight to istanbul, to transfer to Ankara. On my flight, I wrote my draft siteseeing followup report with my hand writing. I then wrote it on my desktop computer later in the week in my office, for office distribution, and delivery to US parent company. I explained my trip, wrote down details of requirements, expectations.

However our JV company in Ankara could not make any business in Israel without making sacrifice for other MiddleEast countries. In the middle east, other countries put strict condition that you do not work in Israel. However they do not ask US or Canadian companies to obey that condition. So we transferred the request to our Canadian sister company to make the proposal, in accordance with refinery requirements. Canadian company delivered the proposal, they received the order to supply necessary equipment. Local installation was carried out by local subcontractors, under supervision of  North American supervisors.

Our JV company had no share in this transaction other than reimbursement of my travel expenses, which was around 10k$.

What I recall in this business trip was impressions of ultra religious Jews in outskirts of Telaviv with black dresses, women soldiers with heavy infantry rifles on roads for home leave, cramped traffic due to ongoing metro construction, wide pure empty sea coact, warm weather, beautiful local meals, wonderful local wine, beautiful appetisers.

People were living as if they were in French Rivaera sea coast, ignoring any terror attack with careful precausions to avoid by all means, living in an European political environment. They were comfortable optimistic hardworking people although they were living in a difficult geography.

We had a number of further communication with local rep later in the year with no mutual successful result. It was very difficult to finalise any order from our end.
Middle east market was and is so great that we could not risk to involve in Israel market. It is almost 28-years since my last visit to Israel. Many events have passed.
It was beneficial for your writer to get experience in different working environment.

Ankara, October 21, 2018

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Ataş Refinery 1992

Contract negotiation at Ataş Refinery in Mersin, 1992

We received an invitation in 1992 from Ataş Refinery, which had annual oil refine capacity of 4.4 million tons, which was commissioned in Mersin in 1962 and ended in 2004.
They had three high capacity steam boilers, they wanted rehabilitation. We had site seeing prior to proposal submission. They were American Combustion Engineering design boilers with oil burners at four corners. The old steam pipes would be changed with new ones, the whole boiler insulation would be renewed.
We took technical drawings, we made calculations for material and labour pricing, pipe replacement. We put a reasonable profit, we set the last price. Then we were invited to the workplace after the evaluation. We went to the refinery as a team of four people heading our English General Manager of the JV company in Ankara. In face to face meeting with the client in their Mersin refinery, we talked about our price, our references, our past experience, our competence. Our competitors' proposals were opened before us. Competitors who have done business before they did not succeed, our price is a little expensive but that was not important. If we would come to the same level as were informally whispered that we would receive the order.
Aside from the price issue, we entered the negotiation of the contract document. A 100 page draft contract document on the matter, we together reviewed sentence by sentence, simple issues we have passed. Document was in English. Since Refinery was a foreign-partnered JV company, the contract must be in English. It was not a problem for our team, we had British general manager, all rest were graduated from METU University which has curriculum in English..
We passed the contract clauses slowly, we finally came to the force majeure clause
At the contract, the contractor clearly specified the reasons for the force majeure and they did not accept anything other than that. They wanted the net reason or wording for the proposed modification.
We have sent the English document to our US partner before and got their opinion. Our US lawyers wanted a new expression to be entered into a final contract, as "Force Majeure means any event or circumstances beyond the reasonable control of a Party which prevents the performance by that Party of its obligations", which is now standard definition.
Refinery team refused that wording since it was too loose statement. We are telling examples, such as "if a plane falls on the refinery, a submarine explodes nearby" since these were not under our control, but the negative situations created by third parties.
Refinery team understood the situation, but they did not want to change their own text.
As for the price section, our competitor's proposal figures were disclosed, we were asked to reduce our final price to the cheapest price. We were asked to go down for this price.
At that point, our negotiation was over, we have no more patience in our team who has been negotiating from morning to night for a week.
"We stopped the negotiation, we left the meeting and we went on the weekend of Friday weekend, we returned to Ankara.
On Monday morning, our joint venture company's English general manager told the latest status to top decision makers of our domestic partner company. This last price and their contract was impossible to take the job. Local parent company top management gathered together among its own. Two-hours later, they said "We do want this work with this price and with this contract. No matter how you tie the job, but do fix the order," they said.
The British general manager returned to his office, he wrote a new letter of acceptance as if he hadn't broken the ropes on the previous Friday, he thanked Refinery, we got the job.
A week later, we went back to Ataş Refinery, we signed the contract. The first kickoff (starting) meeting was gathered at the nearby fish restaurant of Karatoprak by the sea. We ate fish and then we evaluated the project on fish-scented papers.
Those papers entered the files as a starting document for the kickoff meeting of notes.
The work took a year. The submarine did not pass, the refinery did not fall down, we had no need for force majeure. Why did I tell you this story? Foreigners, especially Americans, Anglo-Saxons, Western Europeans, Japanese, they clearly identify risks and make prices for risks, while Turks are more likely to take risks without pricing.

Ankara, 18 September 2018

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Turkish Foreign Policy

Turkish Foreign Policy on Syria and Russia

I have been in Syria, Israel and Jordan during 1990-1999 due to my sales and marketing of industrial steam boilers. I spent a lot of time here. I got profitable jobs for the private company I worked at that time. We are in a business environment very similar to Turkey. This business environment had a well-functioning commercial climate to make good money. At the moment, maybe for the next 10-years you can not do business around Syria. Unfortunately not.
In the past, Syria was our natural market. Syria were our backyard to make business. Unfortunately, there is no longer Syrian market. Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Diar-el-Zor are now in ruins. How the new Syria will be formed, how it will develop, how it will become a market again, it is hard to predict. But if you want to avoid war, you always have to be ready for war.
Turks are not Arab, we are in a different environment, our languages are different. So it is very difficult for Turks to stand out in the Islamic world. We should not be surprised by the premises of the early Republic period, tested during the Second World War, verified, not to interfere with others' internal affairs, "Peace at home, Peace at world" principles. Being involved in other countries' internal affairs hurts us. Trade is stopped, millions of unemployed- poor- uneducated problem people came to us, as refugees, as immigrants. Rich immigrants did not stop in Turkey, they moved into Europe, America.

There is a large Russian Naval Base in Tartus on the Mediterranean coast of Syria. This is where the Russians get the strongest logistical support in the Mediterranean. Assad government provided this area as a base to the Russians. All Russian warships are receiving logistical support, fuel, food here in the Mediterranean, maintenance is done here. Losing this base for the Russians is not acceptable. They will not negotiate by any means.
Further south is the Russian Khmeimin Air Base with two asphalt 3km runways beside Assad International Airport in the south-east of the city of Latakia. With the agreement between Syria and Russia, it was opened in 2015 indefinite period and free of charge. In this air base, there are 11 types of latest-generation SU-57, SU-25, SU-24, SU-22 Russian fighter planes ranging in number from 37-50. There are also numerous T-90 battle tanks and S-400 missiles here. Without knowledge of Russia, even birds can not fly.
There are only national interests in foreign policy. It is not our job to bring democracy to others. It is not our job to solve the internal problems of other countries. If we want to get along well with the Russians, we have to pay attention to the interests of the Russians, their red lines, their sensitivities. Russia is not only a transatlantic superpower, it is our closest neighbor, the most intensely commercial and social neighbor we are. Without paying attention to Russia's defense sensitivities, it is difficult to carry out the outpost in this region, it is almost impossible. Russia is no longer the old "Soviet Union". After 1989, they set up a democracy according to his own. You like it or not, they have their own electoral system, they have their own democratic scheme. Russian market economy is gradually settling down. Old "Comrade" Russians came out as the new businessman, the businesswoman, the business-people. There are no old Russian car makers in front of the Kremlin. Russian-made automobiles are no longer produced. They are all BMW, Mercedes, Audi. Russians have money to buy the best. They have their own space and nuclear technology.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, comes to Turkey often in daytime 8-hour work schedule. We wish he comes more often. We learn mutual interests, sensitivities, common business opportunities. We have so much to learn from each other. It is always necessary to keep all kinds of information exchange channels open.
Vladimir Putin is a very rational, very realistic person. He has Ph.D. degree from Leningrad-St.Petersburg University on International Law and Economics. He speaks German fluently. He also learned English. He knows the outside world. He knows what he wants.
These are important. We live in an age when the US Secretary of State can not speak any other language than English. The last US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, does not speak any other language than English. He does not feel obliged to know.
Our relations with Russia were not good during the cold war period. But now the walls are down, the cold war is over. There are currently thousands of qualified Turkish workers working in civil contracting services in Russia. There are marriages between Russians and Turks. Our Russian brides are the grandchildren of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Tchaikovsky. They are multicultural, very educated and very beautiful women. Most of the 400 nuclear students we send to Russia, will marry Russian women in the future. The Russian language will enter into Turkish families.
We have high degree dependency on natural gas in Russia. That is why our "Current Deficit" is high. Imported coal and future nuclear dependency are also to be added. We must reduce dependency to acceptable figures. We need to open common business areas.
The world is now more free, more independent, more free thanks to the internet. A more relaxed free market in Russia has been formed. The black market is finished but the service / service sector is still not good. Russian women are well educated and beautiful, men are more business minded, ballet-opera performances are great again.
We should not interfere with others' internal affairs, we should believe in the synergy of doing common business, let's not leave the principle of "peace in the country, peace in the world."


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), 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 ODTÜ Alumni and Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.
Ankara, 15 September 2018

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