MOSCOW, July 1 (Reuters) - Russia has offered Turkey a role in its South Stream gas pipeline to Europe, Russian news agencies reported on Wedneseday, marking another Russian attempt to undermine the European Union’s rival Nabucco project.
Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, Russia’s top energy official, told Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz that Turkey is welcome to participate in the South Stream project, which aims to transport Russian gas under the Black Sea through Eastern Europe to Austria and Italy.
“We hope that the Turkish side will look at our offer and that we will cooperate further so that our offer is more attractive and clear to our partners,” Sechin told reporters in Moscow after the meeting with Yildiz, the news agencies reported.
He did not give details of what specific role Turkey could play in the planned South Stream pipeline, which in its current form does not cross Turkish territory.
Yildiz said Turkey would review all the offers on the table, but added that Nabucco and South Stream were not rivals in Turkey’s understanding. “Not one of the projects are being looked at as competitors. Each one has its own course of development,” he said, Interfax reported.
Sechin did not mince words, however, about the Russian offer’s goal of damaging Nabucco’s chances of success.
Turkey is a crucial partner in the Nabucco project, which Europe is counting on to ease its energy dependence on Russia.
Asked about the benefits of Russia’s offer over Nabucco, Sechin said: “The clear economic accounting, the coordination of all the factors, and the efficiency should clearly show which project is the best,” Itar-Tass news agency reported.
On Monday, Russia dealt a heavy blow to the Nabucco project by securing supplies of Azeri gas, which has been identified as the main potential source for the EU-backed pipeline. [ID:nLT104419] (Reporting by Simon Shuster; editing by James Jukwey)