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British energy minister lends support to Turkey on Iran gas deal

Int’l Relations

British Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks extended support to Turkey with regards to its decision to sign an energy cooperation deal with neighbor Iran earlier this summer, saying that no country can be dependent on one resource when the issue is its vital energy needs, thisismoney reported.

The British minister’s remarks came in a brief interview with the Anatolia news agency in Istanbul following his talks with Turkish officials in Ankara on Monday. Late in July, Turkey signed a deal to use Iran as a transit route for Turkmen gas and agreed to develop Iran’s South Pars gas field to facilitate the transport of gas to Europe. Washington has voiced its opposition to the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Turkey and Iran, with US Ambassador to Turkey Ross Wilson stating an expectation that Ankara would take US concerns into consideration as it moved ahead on the deal, which remains at the MOU level.

Touching on the current environment in the region and the richness of Iraq and Iran in terms of energy resources, Wicks said he hoped the conflict in Iraq subsides as soon as possible. “I appreciate Turkey’s agreement with Iran. I can understand its reasons,” Wicks said, in an apparent reference to the deal that has sparked reaction from Turkey’s NATO ally, the United States. Following his visit to Turkey, he will travel to the Caspian region in order to continue lobbying for a gas pipeline that would supply Europe directly with gas, bypassing Russia. “We must admit that Russia is an extremely important resource, taking into consideration the energy needs of the European Union. There is a saying in English - Don’t put all your eggs in one basket - and this is valid for every country and the EU. That’s what we’ve been trying to do,” Wicks was quoted as saying by Anatolia, in an apparent reference to a €4.6 billion Nabucco gas pipeline project launched to deliver gas from the Caspian Sea to Vienna’s Baumgarten distribution station via Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, intended to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.

The five signatory companies to the pipeline project - Austria’s OMV, Hungary’s MOL, Romania’s Transgaz, Bulgaria’s Bulgargaz, and the Turkish state-owned Turkish Pipeline Company (BOTAS) - have been looking for a sixth partner. In June Russia’s Gazprom announced it was building a natural gas pipeline with Italy’s Eni under the Black Sea to Bulgaria, from which point it would continue on to Italy in a project that would compete directly with Nabucco. “What every country basically needs to do is increase its energy resources and diversify routes for these resources. … Russia is not the only player in this market, so I believe that the Nabucco project is still important,” Wicks said. “In the region, no country dependent solely on one partner can be imagined, either commercially or politically,” he added (tehrantimes.com)

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