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Oil Report

INTERVIEW-Turkey Sabanci to pick nuclear partner by mid-March

ISTANBUL, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Turkey's Sabanci Holding SAHOL.IS will choose by mid-March from up to six European and Asian companies to partner its bid in a Turkish nuclear power plant tender, the head of Sabanci's energy group said on Monday.

“We are looking for a utility company and are in talks with five or six companies ... (We can decide on one) at the end of February or the beginning of March,” Selahattin Hakman, the president of the conglomerate’s energy group, told Reuters.

Turkey will hold a tender for the construction and operation of three seperate nuclear power station tenders by May at the latest, and construction is targeted to begin this year, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said earlier this month.

A previous tender had been cancelled when no companies bid under conditions that did not include a purchasing guarantee for electricity generated by the plant.

Hakman said the revised tender conditions were “headed in the right direction.”

The plant was originally seen coming on line by 2012, but delays are likely to push back that date.

Enerjisa, owned by Sabanci Holding and Austria's Verbund VERB.VI, is also looking to participate in gas distribution grid sell-offs set for this year, if market liberalisation includes gas importing and domestic gas trading, Hakman said.

“We’ll be looking at vertically integrated projects, not just stand alone distribution grids. If it (contains gas) trading we could participate,” he said.

Bidders for the tender of Ankara's gas distribution network include Gaz de France GAZ.PA, Germany's RWE RWEG.DE, Russia's Gazprom GAZP.MM and Spain's Gas Natural GAS.MC.

Turkish state pipeline company Botas must reduce its gas contracts to 20 percent of national consumption by the end of 2009, and market liberalisation includes gas import and trading.

Enerjisa is looking to bump its production capacity to 5,000 megawatts from its current 455 megawatts by 2015 with projected investments of as much $6.5 billion. The company also aims to control 10 percent of the Turkish energy market by 2015, by which time it may go public.

“We want to be properly set up and then we may consider a public offering,” said Hakman. (Editing by Anthony Barker, editing by Anthony Barker)

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