Turkey sees Caspian, Mideast gas in Europe next year

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ANKARA: Turkey s pipelines will be ready in 2008 for suppliers to pump their natural gas to the European market, Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said on Tuesday. Starting in 2008, any countries which want to sell gas to Europe will be able to pump gas through our national network of pipelines, Guler told reporters. Turkey, a candidate for European Union membership, sees itself as a bridge between energy-rich Caspian and Central Asian countries and European consumers although it is also dependent on imported energy. Guler also said a great part of the Nabucco pipeline project between Turkey and Austria, a key plank in EU plans to diversify its gas supply away from Russia, had been finished. The first phase of Nabucco project will have nearly been completed if a few more connections are completed, he said. Hungary s prime minister on Tuesday criticized the five-nation project for taking too long and not having a reliable timetable. Nabucco, owned by a consortium of Austria s OMV, Hungary s MOL, Turkey s Botas, Bulgaria s Bulgargaz and Romania s Transgaz, hopes to transport gas from the Caspian region to Europe while the Blue Stream would supply Russian gas. The $6 billion, 3,300 km pipeline is planned to start operating in 2011 or 2012. The gas to be pumped through Nabucco may come from Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Egypt or Russia, Guler said, adding that the first gas from Turkey will reach Greece in July. We are not working on a single option but on five options, he said.

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