By Natalia Grib

Following the results of the meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin suggested to deepen the cooperation within energy sphere by assets exchanging. First of all the case is about the access to the resources of Black and Caspian Sea and the gas transporting system of Turkey. Also Ankara promises to arrange all approvals for the South Stream piping till November. Gazprom says that now Turkey stands in one list with its other strategic partners – Germany and Italy.

On the 13th of January Moscow welcomed negotiations of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Chairman of Russian Government Vladimir Putin. "Interrelations with Turkey carry a character of strategic partnership – explained Prime Minister press secretary Dmitry Peskov. – In particular, they discussed a new mechanism of consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, which would illustrate the new level of interrelations. In March of 2009 a Ministerial working group was established for the development of strategic plan of common actions. The decisions of these group gained support and promotion within the highest level". Before the talks Turkey suggested to establish an additional body of the two states interrelations, but the corresponding decision hasn’t been adopted.

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Yet in August of 2009 Putin and Erdogan signed the protocol on the cooperation of the two countries within oil and gas sphere. Yesterday Vladimir Putin declared that the Parties “can not only trade energy resources but also exchange with the assets, solve the issues of cross-capitalization”. Another official of Russia specified for Kommersant, that “it was strategically decided to exchange with produced assets in the regions of Black and Caspian Sea”. Gazprom and LUKOIL possess a share in the structure “Central” in Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan.

“Itera” obtained a license on production on the 21st block of Caspian Shelf of Turkmenistan and gives 51% to “Zarubezhneft” in this project. “Gazprom Kuban Dobycha” (“Gazprom Kuban Production ”) operates in Black Sea region. In its turn, Turkish TRAO operates within Brazilian Petrobras in Caspian Sea.

However, Russian business is more interested not in the production in this region, but in the gas transporting infrastructure. "Russian companies are ready to participate in privatization program, which is currently accomplished by the Turkish Government",- specified Vladimir Putin.

As the Government official told Kommesant, Gazprom would like to take a part within privatizations of gas distributing companies of Ankara, Istanbul which are planned this year.

The President of Turkish Center of International Affairs and Strategic Analysis “Turksam” Sinan Ogan says that it is planned to hold a tender for the selling of less than 80% of Egdas (gas transporting system of Istanbul), the cost of which is estimated as two billion US dollars. However, according to an expert, privatization contests will depend on the terms of Parliamentary elections in the country, appointed on the next year. Except for that, in future privatization of the Botas state company is planned.

“Gazprom” is also interested in the underground gas storage (UGS) Tuz being constructed in Turkey. According to the interlocutors of Kommersant the monopoly would also like to gain a share in this UGS. After the summit Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller with Botas Acting Director Mehmet Konuk discussed the results of 2009 (when Turkey took the second place after Germany within gas consumption) and joint actions for 2010. Official representative of Gazprom Sergey Kupriyanov proved for Kommersanr that “they have achieved a principle agreement on that Turkish companies join the list of our strategic partners Germany and Italy”. “And later on we’ll discuss the details of business”- he said.

One of the key steps of Ankara should be the approval of piping from Russia to Europe of the South Stream gas pipeline through Turkish territorial waters of Black Sea. According to Vladimir Putin “we have an agreement that till November 2010 Turkish Government will accomplish necessary estimations and will provide us with the construction license”.

For this Gazprom has to present Ankara the results of its researches. “Ecologic expertise is 100% accomplished, geological and technical studies are actively held, they are 85-90% complete”, - Prime Minister assured.

Less intensive is the activity of Russia on joining the project of Samsun-Ceyhan gas pipeline, on which it was agreed in summer. Yesterday the Parties didn’t manage to agree in the participation interests of Rosneft and Transneft within the project. Instead they decided to invite to join Italian ENI, which participates within the projects of the South Stream and Blue Stream (gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey along the bottom of Black Sea).

Maksim Shein from Brokerkreditservis notes that it’s not the first attempt of Russia to conclude strategic agreements with Turkey.

However, some problems arise between the countries from time to time. Thus Turkey purchases only 9 billion cubic meters of gas by the Blue Stream instead of the promised 16 billions. Also Ankara hasn’t agreed on gas transit along its territory to Europe and Israel through the operating gas pipelines.
Translated by EuroDialogueXXI from Kommersant

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