Turkey plans to award licenses allowing the import of 6bn cubic metres (cm) of Russian gas through the "Western Line" to four private companies, energy markets watchdog EPDK announced on September 25. Meanwhile, a government official revealed that Ankara is ready to increase the role of private companies by a further 4bn cm.
Kibar Holding, Akfel Gaz, BosphorusGaz, and Index Holding will be awarded licenses to begin imports through the pipeline, which runs from Russia through to Bulgaria, starting in October, said EPDK head Hasan Koktas according to Reuters. Earlier reports had said that only Kibar would start operations this year, with Akfel set to begin next, but not until 2013.
It has been reported that 13 Turkish privately-owned companies had bid for contracts to buy the gas, which were made available after state pipeline company Botas refused to extend a 25-year contract with Russian gas giant Gazprom - which ends this month - due to Moscow's refusal to offer a discount on gas imports.
Shortly after Koktas' announcement, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said that Turkey is set to begin talks with Russia in the new year on transferring a further 4bn cm of gas contracts to the private sector. Turkey's developing economy is increasingly hungry for energy. The country imported a total of 39.7bn cm of gas in 2011, with Russia its largest supplier. However, it will likely need to expand that as US and EU sanctions are limiting trade with Iran, its second-largest supplier.
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