Turkey and Russia have agreed to negotiate increased purchases of natural gas and electricity by Ankara, Turkish Energy Minister Cumhur Ersumer said on Tuesday.
After meeting with visiting Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, Ersumer told reporters they had discussed the purchase of an additional 12 million cubic metres (47 million cubic feet) of Russian gas per month starting in November.
According to statistics by Turkey's state-run oil company BOTAS, Turkey bought 9.5 billion cubic metres of gas from Russia in 1999 through a pipeline that crosses Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria.
"There is no problem with regard to the amount of gas Russia can supply. But there was the need to construct new facilities in Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria to increase the gas flow," Ersumer said.
"The (Russian) prime minister told me that there are still some problems in Ukraine. We will continue our talks," Ersumer added.
Turkey and Russia -- Ankara's main natural gas supplier -- are working on another gas pipeline project, dubbed Blue Stream, which will stretch from the southern Russian gas plant of Izobilnoy, across the Black Sea floor, to the Turkish coastal city of Samsun.
In February this year, they began construction of the 1,213-kilometre (758-mile) pipeline, which will deliver eight billion cubic metres of gas to Turkey per year once it becomes operational in autumn 2001.
Kasyanov on Tuesday visited a construction site in Samsun, where a consortium between two Turkish companies and a Russian one, are building the Turkish section of the conduit running from the Black Sea to capital Ankara.
"We are realizing a project most people thought was a dream. Turkey is near to finishing its section of the pipeline and Russia is working fast on the section on its soil," Kasyanov told reporters, the Anatolia news agency reported.
"The third phase of the project (the off-shore part of the conduit) will start in December. The necessary agreements with banks have been made and there is no obstacle left," he added.
Once built, the Blue Stream pipeline will be the world's deepest gas link, reaching depths of 2,150 metres (7,095 feet) at some points.
Another issue discussed by Ersumer and Kasyanov was Turkey's desire to buy electricity from Russia via Georgia to meet growing energy demands and avert the imminent danger of power cuts due to falling water levels at its hydroelectric dams.
"We have agreed that if Russia, Georgia and Turkey reach a three-way deal, we can increase the amount of electricity to be bought to 100 million kWh per month," Ersumer said.
He added that officials from Russian electricity companies and from Turkey's state-run electricity company TEAS would hold talks on this issue.
Turkey recently ordered a series of energy-saving measures after water levels in three main dams in its southeastern region dropped significantly due to a severe drought, forcing cutbacks in power production.Turkey already buys electricity from Georgia, Bulgaria and Iran. — (AFP, Ankara)
© Agence France Presse
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