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Baku looks to Middle East for gas transit

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Azerbaijan is negotiating to start transporting natural gas to countries in the Middle East, the president of the country's state energy company said.

Azerbaijan is emerging as a significant source of oil and gas for European and Middle Eastern consumers.

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Rovnag Abdullayev, the president of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan, said his company planned to sign a series of agreements with Turkey on the sale and transit of Azeri natural gas.

"I hope that in the first half of 2011 we will sign the entire package, including a transit agreement and a sale and purchase agreement," he was quoted by the Azerbaijan Business Center as saying.

He said any talks of building the Nabucco gas pipeline for Europe could depend on deals with Turkey. Azeri gas is mentioned as a fundamental non-Russian source of gas for the European project, though formal agreements are slow to develop.

Abdullayev added his company was in talks with Turkey's state-owned pipeline company BOTAS for transit options through Syria.

"We've already launched negotiations with BOTAS on the conditions and tariffs for the transit of Azeri gas to Syria through Turkey," he said. "Negotiations will continue in 2011 and delivery of gas will begin since 2012."

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