Turco-Russian pipeline project not under fraud probe, official says
A multi-billion-dollar project for a gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey is not within the scope of a major corruption probe underway into the Turkish energy ministry, a senior official said Monday, according to Anatolia news agency.
"We have no official or unofficial information about any investigation or inquiry," into the so-called Blue Stream project, the head of Turkey's state oil and gas company, Gokhan Yardim, said in an interview with the CNBC-E television channel, according to Anatolia.
The prosecutor, who leads the investigation into the energy ministry, said Friday that the Blue Stream was being probed.
"Inspectors are looking into tenders and projects, carried out by the energy ministry, among them the Blue Stream," Talat Salk told Anatolia.
Yardim said that, "Russia is very much concerned because of these reports." "The Russians fear that this project will not go ahead. And I've explained to them that there is no such a thing," he added, according to Anatolia.
He asserted that there was no irregularity in the pipeline deal. The Blue Stream is a planned 1,213-kilometre (758-mile) conduit from the southern Russian gas plant of Izobilnoy across the Black Sea bed to Turkey's northern port of Samsun.
In February 2000, the two countries began building the pipeline, which is scheduled to become operational late this year and deliver eight billion cubic metres of natural gas to Turkey per year.
Once built, it will be the world's deepest gas link, reaching depths of 2,150 metres (7,095 feet) at some points. Turkish authorities have launched a comprehensive probe into the energy ministry on suspicion of widespread corruption in tenders that reportedly cost the state millions of dollars. – (AFP, Ankara)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)