(Adds details, Gazprom quote)
ISTANBUL Nov 26 Gazprom clinched a
long-term deal on Monday to export natural gas to private
companies in Turkey, securing a growing market for the Russian
gas export monopoly as it faces declines from its core consumers
in the European Union.
Turkey's energy market regulatory authority gave private
energy companies Akfel, Bosphorus and Kibar licences to import
gas from Russia's Western Line over 30 years.
It also granted the Bati Hatti natural gas company a licence
to import gas from the same pipeline for 23 years.
The four companies had previously agreed with Gazprom to
import 6 bcm of natural gas a year on the Western line, which
runs through Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria to Turkey, with an
annual capacity of 14 bcm.
"The deal is very important for Gazprom. Turkey has always
been a significant and stable partner for us," an official for
Gazprom Export, the company's export arm, told Reuters.
There has been a one-year impasse in gas trade between
Gazprom and Turkish companies after Turkey's state gas company
Botas did not renew an expiring 25-year contract at the end of
2011 due to a pricing dispute. Business has continued in the
meantime only on a short-term basis.
Turkey, which is struggling to diversify its gas suppliers,
is largely dependent on the fuel because it produces the
majority of its electricity via natural gas.
Turkey is likely to overtake Britain as Europe's
third-biggest electricity consumer within a decade and become an
energy trading hub, capitalising on its booming population and
economy as well as its proximity to cheap natural gas resources.
Gazprom is Europe's natural gas supplier but is seeking to
diversify its markets away from the European Union, on which it
relies for 80 percent of its exports.
(Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow; Writing
by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Anthony Barker)