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Sat 19 Sep 2009 09:03 PM

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Turkey may sign pact with Iraq on Nabucco gas

UPDATE 1: MoU may follow July transit deal to carry Caspian, ME gas to Europe.

Turkey and Iraq have discussed signing a memorandum of understanding to ship Iraqi gas to Europe via Turkey through the planned Nabucco pipeline, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Saturday.Turkey and four European Union countries signed a transit deal in July for the $7.9 billion euro EU-backed pipeline to carry Caspian and Middle Eastern gas to central Europe, aiming to cut dependency on Russia.

No concrete supply deals have yet been signed for Nabucco, which plans to pump 31 billion cubic metres of gas to Europe by 2014. Backers of the Vienna-based consortium have said Iraq could be among the suppliers.

Azerbaijan and even Russia and Turkmenistan have also been eyed as potential suppliers.

Yildiz did not provide more details of the possible MOU with neighbouring Iraq.

But during the signing ceremony of the Nabucco transit deal in Ankara between Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria in July, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Europe could receive 15 billion cubic metres of Iraqi gas via Turkey.

Turkey, which has used its position as an energy transit route to push its troubled EU membership bid, has said it will stand by its commitments for Nabucco despite also backing alternative pipeline projects such as Russia's South Stream, which Moscow aims to build before Nabucco.

Yildiz also said Turkish petroleum firm TPAO and Turkish Petroleum's foreign exploration unit TPIC would enter Iraq's second oil auction later this year. Turkey and Iraq have deepened their political and economic ties in recent years. (Reuters)

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