Oil Report

UPDATE 2-Turkey says will sign more Iran energy deals

(Recasts, adds quotes, details)

ANKARA, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Turkey will sign further energy accords with neighbouring Iran, including natural gas deals, Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said on Tuesday, defying U.S. pressure on its allies to avoid such ties with Tehran.

Guler was speaking after Ankara and Tehran signed a $1.5 billion accord for the upgrading of existing power transmission lines and construction of a fresh line between the two nations.

“We will continue to sign agreements with Iran, including natural gas ones,” Guler told reporters at a joint news conference with his Iranian counterpart, Parviz Fattah, in the Turkish capital.

Washington has urged its allies, including NATO member Turkey, to cut business ties with Tehran over Iran’s nuclear programme. Western countries say Iran is trying to build nuclear bombs, although Tehran says its programme is purely peaceful.

Asked about U.S. opposition to signing such accords with Iran, Guler said: “We put our signature to this agreement. The agreement will be put into effect.”

Under the deal, Ankara plans to import between 3 and 6 billion kilowatt/hours of electricity and envisages completion of construction within a year.

A senior Turkish Energy Minister official told Reuters earlier the agreement also envisaged electricity sales and purchases between the two countries during peak hours.

Shrugging off U.S. opposition, Turkey signed a preliminary transmission line agreement with Iran in August.

The agreement also includes construction of three natural gas-fired power stations with a total of 6,000 megawatt capacity and a 10,000 megawatt-capacity hydropower station.

Guler said Turkish contractors would build the hydropower station.

Iran currently exports electricity to energy-hungry Turkey via two transmission lines with a combined capacity of 250 megawatts.

Guler said the public sector would conduct the work on the transmission lines, while the private sector would carry out construction of the power stations and dams. (Writing by Daren Butler, editing by Anthony Barker)