EU, Turkey discuss natural gas ties

Feb. 10, 2012 at 6:44 AM

ISTANBUL, Turkey, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- European and Turkish leaders aim to develop a road map for the safe transport of natural gas, visiting officials to Istanbul said.

Gunther Oettinger, the European commissioner for Energy, joined Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule for meetings in Istanbul.

The European Union said the EU and Turkish officials discussed the importance of an open energy relationship. Both sides agreed that closer cooperation in infrastructure and secure transport of natural gas was beneficial to the region.

"A joint working group will now start to develop a road map by May 2012 to identify the concrete actions for intensified cooperation in agreed areas," the EU stated.

Turkey is positioning itself as a regional energy hub. It already hosts a section of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, one of the longest in the world.

Europe is looking for ways to break the Russian grip on the natural gas sector by pursuing a series of natural gas pipelines included in the so-called Southern Corridor. Ankara had said natural gas from Azerbaijan would flow through Turkish transit networks for European consumers within five years.

All of principals in the Southern Corridor say their projects are the best for Europe. Of those, Nabucco is the most ambitious though its $10 billion price tag and lack of firm supplier commitments is causing some investors to shy away.

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