Gazprom warns Turkey over Azeri gas pipeline deal

June 29, 2012, Friday/ 14:11:00/ REUTERS

Gazprom on Friday sent a warning signal to its second-largest gas consumer Turkey over Ankara's agreement with neighbouring Azerbaijan to built a gas pipeline to Europe, a rival to Moscow-backed planned South Stream trunk.

Gazprom is anxiously watching the latest developments in Azerbaijan, whose gas fields are the most developed new non-Russian sources of natural gas that can be pumped to the European Union through pipelines.

Moscow is keen on keeping Azerbaijan, its former Soviet satellite, within the orbit of influence and is trying to secure access to the country's vast gas riches, a bone of contention between Europe and Russia.

On Tuesday, Turkey and Azerbaijan signed an inter-governmental agreement on the $7-billion Trans-Anatolian natural gas pipeline project (TANAP), designed to carry Azeri natural gas across Turkey to Europe.

Gazprom also said it increased gas supplies to Turkey after it requested more volumes of Russian gas following a pipeline explosion, which hampered gas flow from Iran to Turkey.

But Gazprom's spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said if the Trans-Anatolian project is "completed as planned in 2018, Turkey could then apply for help to Baku," according to Gazprom's emailed statement.

In another development, which undermines Russian grip on the former Soviet Republic, Azeri's Shah Deniz II consortium, led by BP Plc and Statoil, on Thursday selected the Nabucco West pipeline for one of two possible routes to carry Caspian gas to western Europe.

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