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Another Success and a New Challenge for Turkey's Gas Diplomacy

Andrea Bonzanni Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2009

Less than a month after making progress on the Nabucco pipeline deal, which has now secured half of the gas needed to fill it, Turkey signed another natural gas agreement in early August that will allow access into Turkish territorial waters to the South Stream pipeline. South Stream, a Russian-Italian venture, is designed to bring Russian gas to Bulgaria while bypassing troublesome transit countries on the route between the Russian Federation and the European Union. A few days later, Turkey also held discussions with the emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, on pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects, as well as with Syrian Petroleum Minister Sufian Al-Allao on network interconnections that may carry Egyptian natural gas to Turkey.

The agreements reveal Turkey's bold strategy in gas diplomacy, particularly its determination to receive as much gas as possible regardless of the source. Part of this dash to gas is surely justifiable by growing domestic needs. Turkish consumption witnessed a tenfold increase between 1990 and 2006, boosted by 4.5 percent average annual GDP growth. An aggressive process of gasification of the country's energy supply, led by state-owned giant BOTAS, also contributed to the increase. ...

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