Turkey halts Azeri gas flow to Greece

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey has halted the flow of Azeri gas to Greece due to a suspension of gas supplies from Iran to Turkey, a senior Turkish Energy Ministry official told Reuters yesterday. Iran, one of Ankara’s main suppliers, stopped pumping to Turkey on Monday, Turkish officials have said. Tehran blamed the disruption on cold weather and a cut in Turkmen gas supplies. The senior Turkish Energy Ministry official said yesterday daily gas consumption in Turkey had fallen to 124 million cubic meters (mcm) from 142 million as a result of measures prompted by the halt in Iranian gas flows. «As of yesterday, those gas-fired electricity producers who could do so have switched to alternative fuel, while others have implemented certain cuts. In this context, there is no problem in electricity production,» the official said. He said agreement had been reached with Greece to make up for the cut in their supplies in coming days. George Stergiou, head of Greece’s natural gas grid management company (DESFA), told Reuters gas from Turkey stopped last Saturday. ‘No Greek shortage’ «We are not facing any shortage because we continue to get natural gas from Russia and also have liquefied natural gas coming from storage facilities in Revithoussa,» he said. The pipeline between Turkey and Greece was inaugurated last November in a fresh move to boost ties between the former foes. It will eventually carry some 12 bcm of gas a year – 3 bcm of which will be for Greece – from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field. The Turkish official said there was no change in the 13.5 mcm of gas coming through the Azeri pipeline, but that this was for now being used exclusively in Turkey. The first cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to make up for the shortfall was to arrive at a Turkish port on January 14 and talks were continuing on further LNG purchases, he said. Russia, Turkey’s other main energy provider, is unable to allocate additional supplies, according to previous comments from an Energy Ministry official. A senior Iranian official told Reuters deliveries to Turkey had not been completely cut and that the head of the national gas company, Reza Kasaizadeh, had promised they would gradually increase. He did not specify when. He said he believed Turkmenistan wanted to increase prices for its gas and that this was a factor in its move to cut deliveries to Iran some 10 days ago. Like other Iranian officials, he said Turkmenistan had cited technical problems. But Iran’s oil minister was quoted by the ministry’s website as saying yesterday Tehran will not discuss any price increase for Turkmenistan gas until flows to Iran resumed. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he would ask Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to restore the gas flow. Ankara is strengthening energy ties with Iran and plans to invest billions in Iranian energy projects, despite criticism from the United States. Last week, the flow from Iran fell to 4-5 million cubic meters a day from an agreed 30 million, after the halt in Turkmenistan gas supplies to Iran. A daily reduction of 30 million cubic meters from Iran and a 5 million cubic meter deficit in gas from Russia has created a daily deficit of 35 mcm.