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Erdogan Says He Will Work With Putin To Develop Gas Plant In Turkey

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  • Turkish President Erdogan said Ankara will work with Moscow to create a natural gas hub in Turkey.
  • This is a week after Russian Putin offered to divert natural gas supplies to Europe via Turkey.
  • Putin’s proposal last week surprised Turkish officials.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose plans to sell natural gas directly to Europe were rejected, is now getting help from Turkey to sell fuel to the continent instead.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday said his country would work with Russia to create a “natural gas hub”, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported.

The development comes a week after Putin offered to divert natural gas supplies to Europe via Turkey – a proposal that took Turkish officials by surprise.

“This is the first time we’ve heard of this. So it’s too early to make an assessment,” Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said at the time, Reuters reported. “These are things to discuss.”

Putin and Erdogan met the day after Putin proposed the plan, and the Turkish leader said on October 14 that the energy officials of the two countries would begin work on the proposal immediately.

According to Anadolu news, Erdogan described the natural gas coming from Russia as “Turkish gas” and said, “We will establish a center here with Turkey’s gas coming from Russia.”

In a statement to AK Party deputies, Erdogan said, “And in his own words, Putin said to the world, ‘Europe can buy natural gas from Turkey’.

Turkey has long pursued its dream of becoming an energy hub.

Erdogan’s swift approval of Putin’s proposal for a gas hub in Turkey underscores the deepening ties between Moscow and Ankara, a development that worries the West.

Turkey, a NATO member and European Union candidate country, has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but has not imposed sanctions on Russia or closed its airspace to the country. Russia is one of Turkey’s largest trading partners.

Europe weaning Natural gas imports from Russia but Putin is still trying to sell the fuel to the continent

Erdogan’s deal with Putin comes three weeks after leaks were discovered in key Nord Stream pipelines carrying natural gas from Russia to Germany.

Both pipelines running under the Baltic Sea were damaged, and Denmark and Sweden told the UN that hundreds of kilos of TNT were causing the leaks.

The USA and Germany are among the countries that believe sabotage is involved, while some senior lawmakers in Germany openly point to Russia. Putin, on the other hand, described the incident as an “act of international terrorism”.

Russia was already slowing gas exports to Europe before the pipeline was damaged, but gas supply through the two pipelines was halted indefinitely after the leaks. Nord Steam 1 supplied about 35% of the European Union’s gas imports.

Despite this, Putin wants to continue selling natural gas to Europe. Energy is the mainstay of Russia’s economy, accounting for more than a fifth of its GDP, so cutting the country’s energy income would hit the war chest for the war in Ukraine.

He said last week that Russia could continue to provide fuel through alternative routes, including under the Black Sea, which borders Turkey to the south.

“We can move the lost volumes from the North Streams to the Black Sea region from the bottom of the Baltic Sea,” Putin said at an energy conference in Moscow on October 12, according to Reuters.

Putin said that this would create a new route for the transport of natural gas to Europe via Turkey, thereby creating “Europe’s largest gas hub in Turkey.”

In addition, the EU has offered to ship natural gas to Germany via an undamaged section of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if it so wishes. “We are ready to provide additional volumes in the autumn-winter period,” Putin told Reuters.

However, the German government rejected the proposal to use Nord Stream 2 on October 12, saying “Russia is no longer a reliable energy supplier”.

This is not the first time Putin has suggested the use of Nord Stream 2. He said last month that the EU could open the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline if it wanted more natural gas from Russia.

Nord Stream 2 never went into commercial operation as the project shelved days before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Construction of the pipeline from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea was completed in September 2021.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said in September that the country’s gas exports to the EU will fall by about 50 billion cubic meters in 2022, Interfax news agency reported. According to International Energy Agency data, this will be about a third of the 155 billion cubic meters of Russian gas imported by the EU in 2021.