Iran-Turkey Gas Deal Hanging over Price

196342.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Turkish energy minister Hilmi Guler met with the Iranian ambassador to Ankara Thursday evening to iron out serious problems that have developed over the long-mooted wide-ranging gas deal between the two countries, a Turkish official said.

An official from the Turkish energy ministry told Platts Thursday that tonight’s meeting will be followed next week by a visit by Guler and Turkish foreign minister Ali Babacan to Tehran for high level talks in an effort to overcome problems.

He confirmed that one issue over which the two sides have failed to agree is the price which Turkey is willing to pay for the gas it will receive under the new agreement.

But, he added, the most serious problem is the failure of Tehran to address the technical problems in its gas production and transmission system which has caused Tehran to cut exports to Turkey during the coldest period in the last three winters.

“The situation is very serious. They still haven’t solved the technical supply problems and it seems we will again face shortages next winter,” he said.

Iran and Turkey last year announced that they had signed a memorandum of understanding concerning the transit of Iranian gas to Europe via Turkey through the planned Nabucco line, the transit of Turkmen gas via Iran to Turkey and on to Europe via Nabucco.

Coupled with that is development of three blocks of Iran’s massive South Pars gas field by Turkish state upstream operator TPAO.

A final agreement was supposed to be signed by the end of last year but has been repeatedly postponed because of unexplained problems.

According to some reports, the two countries were to sign the final agreement last week during the state visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

This had been denied ahead of the visit by the Turkish energy ministry, but Turkish media linked the failure to sign the agreement to US pressure on Ankara to drop the deal.

Turkish energy minister Hilmi Guler Monday denied that US policy on Iran had anything to do with the deal’s not being signed, stressing that Turkey was an independent country and pursued an energy policy designed to ensure its own energy security.

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