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Turkey, Russia weigh gas relationship

  |   Oct. 3, 2011 at 12:02 PM
ANKARA, Turkey, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Bilateral energy ties with Russia aren't affected significantly by a decision to end a contract for pipeline supplies, the Turkish energy minister said.

State-owned Turkish Pipeline Corp., or BOTAS, during the weekend said it wasn't renewing its 25-year natural gas deal through the so-called Western pipeline because Gazprom wasn't offering a discount to Ankara.

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz noted that a deal with Russia for the Blue Stream pipeline, which carries more than 200 billion cubic feet of natural gas to Turkey, was still in place.

"Our cooperation with Russia will move forward and grow stronger," he was quoted by Turkish daily newspaper Today's Zaman as saying.

Yildiz said natural gas prices for Turkey are up 39 percent in the past two years. Turkey is one of the key export markets for Russian natural gas.

Ankara aims to position itself as a regional transit hub for natural resources. It already hosts part of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, one of the longest in the world. It could play host to the Nabucco gas pipeline for Europe as well as South Stream, a natural gas pipeline designed to carry Russia's natural gas.

Alexander Medvedev, the head of exports for Gazprom, was quoted by Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying his company had other options in Turkey.

"If the contract with state company BOTAS is not extended, we are ready to supply these volumes to our current and new partners -- private firms -- for a further sale to final consumers on the Turkish market," he said.

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