ANKARA, Turkey, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Russian energy company Gazprom said it's moving closer to the private sector in Turkey because it "knows" it can't do business with the government.
Gokhan Yardim, a former executive at Turkish state-owned energy company BOTAS, told online news site New Europe that the company hadn't extended a 25-year contract with Gazprom because of pricing disputes. Gazprom, however, has sought long-term deals with private companies in Turkey.
"Gazprom knows that they cannot do a long-term agreement with the state company so they prefer to make a deal with the private companies for 30 years," he said.
Part of Gazprom's planned South Stream natural gas pipeline could travel through the Turkish waters of the Black Sea. The country is seen as an emerging energy hub, linking energy-rich countries in the Middle East and Central Asia to European markets.
Gazprom, meanwhile, has seen its European consumers look for alternative energy supplies out of monopoly concerns. The European government had opened an anti-trust probe into Gazprom for its business practices there.
Yardim said Gazprom may be using the Turkish energy market to gain leverage in the region while staying outside the European Union.
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived Monday in Ankara to meet with Turkish leaders.