Turkey to sell its own gas to Greece to make up for major-pipeline delay

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey plans to sell natural gas to Greece from its own reserves if delays from the new Azeri Shakh-Deniz project are extended, an energy ministry official said. The Azeri-based project, which will provide Greece and a European pipeline network with Caspian gas, is not likely to begin before March, the official said. «In the case of delay, we plan to export the natural gas that we produce (to Greece), at least at the start,» the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The Shakh-Deniz project began operations in December, but was stopped soon afterward due to leaks and a breakdown in production at the extraction site. Azerbaijan has told Turkey that production will resume in March. Turkey has gas reserves of undetermined size, but, due to agreements, imports most of its own needs from Russia and Iran. The natural gas export scheme will not change Turkey’s own supply structure. Ankara plans to export 250 million cubic meters to Greece this year from reserves in Thrace – in European Turkey – and Akcakoca on the Black Sea. From 2008 until 2020, Turkey plans to sell 737 million cubic meters annually to Greece. The Turkey-Greece gas pipeline, which is expected to be completed in June of this year, will hook up to a southern European network supplying gas to countries in the region. Turkey’s state-owned gas pipeline company Botas held a tender for a remaining portion of the pipeline in January. The Turkey-Greece pipeline, which will be extended to Italy, has a 12 billion cubic meter annual capacity. Greece has a yearly 3.6 billion cubic meter gas demand, while Italy consumes an annual 8 billion cubic meters.

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