5/18/2009

Putin hosts Erdogan in bid to expand energy ties with Turkey

Bloomberg – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin held energy talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as Russia seeks to expand cooperation with its neighbor across the Black Sea. OAO Gazprom, Russia’s natural-gas exporter, will soon begin talks on extending a delivery contract that expires in 2011, Putin told reporters after a three-hour lunch meeting with Erdogan in his residence in Sochi, southern Russia. The two countries will also consider expanding the Blue Stream pipeline that links Russia to Turkey under the Black Sea, Putin said. Putin invited Erdogan after Turkey agreed last week to reach an agreement with the European Union on the Nabucco pipeline, a project that would by-pass Russia in bringing Caspian resources to Europe. Gazprom, which is pushing a rival project called South Stream, is seeking to thwart Nabucco by buying up all excess gas volumes produced by neighbors such as Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. Turkey is Gazprom’s fourth-largest customer by volume, receiving Russian gas via Bulgaria and Blue Stream. Russia became Turkey’s largest trade partner last year, surpassing Germany.

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