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Turkey threatens to reduce Russian gas imports

September 30, 2011, 12:01 UTC+3
Turkey threatens to reduce Russian gas imports
1 pages in this article

MOSCOW, September 30 (Itar-Tass) — Turkey threatens to reduce Russian gas imports.

Turkey threatens to reduce Russian gas imports and demands the revision of the gas prices, which are already smaller than those paid by European gas consumers. Experts believe it is not accidental that Ankara’s demarche coincided in time with check-ups of Gazprom’s subsidiaries in Europe.

Turkey, the second biggest client of Gazprom abroad, may dramatically reduce Russian gas imports, The Kommersant writes. Ankara demanded, in the form of an ultimatum, the revision of the price, which is lower than the one paid by many other European gas importers. Turkey has ways of exerting pressure on Russia, including permission to the laying of the South Stream gas pipeline and the building of a nuclear power plant in Akkuyu. As a result of it, the problem of the reduction of the gas price may be settled only on the political level, with relations between Turkey and EU being one of the key factors.

Starting from 2012, Turkey may not prolong a contract with Gazprom on gas imports by the western route, Turkish Minister of Energy Taner Yildiz told the Bugun newspaper on Thursday. According to Yildiz, Turkey will do it, if it does not see “a perceptible reduction of the Russian gas price.” Turkey has already forwarded corresponding proposals to Russia. If Russia’s answer does not suit Turkey, the state-owned Bolas Company will not prolong the contract with Gazprom, he said.

The western route provides for gas deliveries by the Trans-Balkan gas pipeline, which goes by the territory of Ukraine, Moldova, Romania and Bulgaria.

Turkey raised the question of the gas price on several occasions. Last March it was discussed by President Medvedev and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan. No agreement has been reached so far. It is the first time, however, that Turkey said it was going not to prolong the contract with Russia and to reduce gas imports from Russia.

According to the sources of The Kommersant, which are close to Gazprom, as well as sources in the Russian government, Turkey’s statements about its intention to reduce gas imports from Russia are regarded by Moscow as a sort of bluff. Natural gas accounts for 60 per cent of Turkey’s energy balance. Last year Turkey did not import the minimal amount of gas – 22 billion cubic metres, and imported only 18 billion. As a result of it, Turkey owes one billion dollars to Gazprom, and the debt should be paid by Bolas before the end of October.

Despite the fact that the gas price for Turkey is comparatively low, “delays were granted to Turkey for submitting proposals on the contract formula, but it did not observe the time limits.” Turkey continues to exert pressure on Gazprom. According to the experts interviewed by The Kommersant, Moscow regards it as “an open attempt to exert pressure on Russia, in order to consolidate Turkey’s prestige in the opinion of the European Union,” whose relations with Gazprom are rather complicated.

Experts are of the opinion that the coincidence in time of searches in the subsidiaries of Gazprom and Turkey’s demarche was not accidental. They did not know, however, what Ankara and Brussels are going to achieve: the giving up of the South Stream project, the withdrawal of Gazprom from retail gas markets or the public giving up of the terms of long-term contracts.

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