* Turkey keen to broaden sources of gas supplies
* Russia wants to build new nuclear plants in Turkey
* Putin arrives on Monday for talks on energy, Syria
(Previous KARASU, adds Turkish energy minister, details)
By Evrim Ergin
ISTANBUL, Dec 2 Russia is willing to increase
gas supplies to Turkey this winter if Ankara requests, Russian
Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Sunday, ahead of an
expected surge in gas demand from the country which is
struggling to diversify its suppliers.
Turkey, which ranks as Gazprom's second-largest
natural gas consumer after Germany, is forecast to see daily
demand rise to near 220 million cubic metres this winter from
125 million currently, according to Energy Ministry officials.
Its limited underground storage capacity means it faces
difficulties meeting high demand from its 75 million people as
winter temperatures plunge.
"As has happened many times in the past, we have always
helped Turkey when they have experienced problems managing
during the winter," Novak told reporters in Turkey, a day ahead
of Russian President Vladimir Putin's arrival in the country.
"If needed, and a joint agreement was reached, it is
possible to do this again."
Gazprom clinched a long-term deal to export natural gas to
private companies in Turkey last week, securing a growing market
for the Russian gas export monopoly as it faces declines from
its core consumers in the European Union.
The move followed a one-year impasse in gas trade between
Gazprom and Turkish firms after state pipeline 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's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told Reuters last
month Ankara planned to enable Botas to buy natural gas on the
spot market, a move that would help it meet demand during harsh
Novak also said Russia's Rosatom, which is set to build
Turkey's first nuclear power plant, was eyeing building future
plants in the country.
"Rosatom wants to be involved in the establishment of other
nuclear power plants in Turkey. We have expressed our desire to
be involved in negotiations on this," Novak said.
Turkey, which has ambitious plans to build nuclear plants
over the next decade to reduce dependence on imported oil and
gas, has reached an agreement with Rosatom to build a plant at
Mersin on the Mediterranean coast.
It is also in talks with four other countries for a second
plant at Sinop on the Black Sea and is planning a third plant.
Turkey, which is likely to overtake Britain as Europe's
third-biggest electricity consumer within a decade and become an
energy trading hub, is struggling to diversify gas suppliers.
It is largely dependent on the fuel because it produces the
majority of its electricity via natural gas.
In a move that could see Turkey having to reduce its gas
imports from Iran, U.S. senators and aides told Reuters last
week the U.S. Senate may soon consider widening trade sanctions
against Iran, including Turkish-Iranian "gold for gas" trade.
Turkey, which receives more than 90 percent of Iran's gas
exports, currently pays its neighbour in Turkish lira to
circumvent existing U.S. and European banking sanctions, which
Iran then uses to buy gold in Turkey.
Yildiz said last week he did not see any clash with the
United States over plans to widen the sanctions and said talks
between both countries were ongoing.
Putin is expected to discuss energy and the ongoing crisis
in Syria, which has strained ties between the two powers because
of differences over how to resolve the conflict.
(Reporting by Evrim Ergin; Writing by Jonathon Burch; Editing
by Sophie Hares)