Gazprom goes liberal in Turkish market
Gazprom, Russia’s energy giant, is among Turkey’s major gas providers. REUTERS photoRussia’s Gazprom has found Turkish private companies to which it can sell its annual 6 billion cubic meters of natural gas, during a one-year-limbo during trade with Turkey’s state-run Botaş.
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said yesterday that the world’s largest gas company had signed contracts for the transfer of the trade to Turkish companies earlier this week.
“In the energy sector, our very close ties with Russia continue,” the minister said during the opening of a vocational school opening in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri. His comments were an indirect reference to the recent tension between Ankara and Moscow over Turkey’s bid to have Patriot missiles placed on the border with Syria by NATO.
The minister did not name any company specifically, but Reuters said that sector sources identified them as Akfel, Bosphorus, Batı Hattı Doğalgaz AŞ, and Kibar Enerji Dağıtım.
Turkey’s energy regulator, EPDK, said yesterday that Turkey would also approve the licenses for four companies on Nov. 26.
EPDK will meet on a given date on the issue, Reuters quoted an official as saying.
The agency also cited a company executive, who said that the Turkish licenses were expected before Nov. 30, as the capacity usage would be detailed. EPDK is waiting for the four qualified companies to sign contracts with Gazprom first.
Turkey’s Botaş faced a pricing dispute with Gazprom two years ago over the trade via the West Line pipe, which resulted in a decision to withdraw from the particular trade. However, after failing to replace Botaş with private contractors, the government de facto continued the trade via the state firm.
The line carries gas to a grid that also provides fuel to consumers in Istanbul. There has been discussion in the Turkish media that any cut in the West Line pipe may cause serious problems in the country’s largest city.
Besides West Line, Turkey is buying Russian gas via Blue Stream, a line beneath the Black Sea with an annual capacity of 16 billion cubic meters.
Turkey, which is struggling to diversify its gas suppliers, is largely dependent on such fuel because it produces the majority of its electricity via natural gas.