ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey is ready to receive gas from Azerbaijan’s Shakh Deniz field and will send the first natural gas to Greece at the end of July, Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said yesterday. «We are ready to receive natural gas from Shakh Deniz. As soon as this gas comes, at the end of July, we will send it to Greece and from there we will send to Italy,» he told an energy conference in Istanbul. Turkey aims to pump 125 million cubic meters gas to Greece this year through the link. Construction of the pipeline is due to be completed in late June. The $300 million, 285-kilometer Turkey-Greece pipeline, which will be extended to Italy, has an annual capacity of around 12 billion cubic meters. Turkey, which produces almost no natural gas or oil, is a key transit route from the energy-rich Caspian region. «We will solve price and transit problems with Azerbaijan over Shakh Deniz… The south European ring will be realized with the gas coming from Shakh Deniz,» Guler said. The Turkey-Greece gas pipeline will hook up to a southern European network supplying gas to countries in the region. He also said Turkey was determined to complete the Nabucco gas pipeline project, which aims to carry Caspian and Middle Eastern gas to Europe via Turkey and the Balkans. On Monday, PPC’s chief executive said the corporation will complete a hookup with Turkey by the end of this year to meet growing demand at home. «By the end of 2007 the electricity connection between Greece and Turkey with a 400-kilovolt line connection will be completed, concluding preparations and negotiations that began in 1989,» Takis Athanassopoulos said at an energy conference in Thessaloniki. Increased demand and a dry winter that resulted in a drop in PPC’s power generation from its hydroelectric stations have prompted the former monopoly to seek ways to import more energy from its neighbors and boost alternative energy capacity. PPC’s upgrade of its energy connection with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is also set to be completed by the end of this month, Athanassopoulos said. PPC will also target alternative sources of energy through further investment in renewable energy, possibly through partnerships.