Iraqi gas key to Turkish ambitions

May 22, 2012 at 8:13 AM

ERBIL, Iraq, May 22 (UPI) -- Ankara aims to be a strategic energy hub in the region and Iraq could play a major role in that ambition, Turkish energy officials said.

The Kurdish capital in Iraq, Erbil, played host to an international energy conference. Ibrahim Palaz, general manager of the international division of Turkish pipeline company BOTAS, told delegates that Ankara was keen on Iraq's natural gas.

"A buyer is out there, right next door to Iraq, wanting to buy Iraqi gas," he was quoted by the Platts news service as saying.

The country already plays host to major international oil pipelines, like the 1,100-mile Baku-Tbilisi Ceyhan. A series of natural gas pipelines for European consumers, dubbed the Southern Corridor, could also criss-cross Turkish territory.

BOTAS Deputy General Manager Mehmet Konuk told the delegates that his company was focused on ensuring European consumers had a stable supply of natural gas.

"Turkey is determined to be an energy hub," he was quoted as saying. "Within this initiative, negotiations with Iraq take an important place."

Turkey gets the majority of its natural gas from Russian energy company Gazprom as well as Iranian and Azeri sources.

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