Turkey, Russia to take gas price dispute to arbitration

Monday, June 30, 2003

ANKARA Turkey wants Russia to reduce the price of its natural gas.

Turkish officials said the two countries are discussing long-term agreements for Russian gas under the $3.3 billion Blue Stream project. They said Russian gas is priced above the market level, including that of energy from Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

Russia has agreed to take the dispute to arbitration, officials said.

They said Ankara has also demanded offsets for the sale of Russian gas to Turkey, which has been suspended since March. Under the agreement, Turkey has until August to reject the flow of Russian gas until it is eligible for penalties, Middle East Newsline reported.

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Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said the 1,250-kilometer Blue Stream pipeline project constituted a $200 million loss for Ankara. Under the agreement, Turkey had pledged to purchase two billion cubic meters of gas in 2003 and increase the purchase until 2008.

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