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Turkey, Azerbaijan Sign Deal on Europe Gas Transit

Turkey and Azerbaijan on June 7 signed a long-awaited deal on the transit of gas to Europe seen as crucial to plans to reduce the continent's dependence on Russian gas.

The memorandum of understanding sets the tariffs Turkey will charge for the transit of Azerbaijani gas to Europe and also fixes the price of gas that Azerbaijan sells to Turkey," Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told reporters after inking the document with his Azerbaijani counterpart Natiq Aliyev.

"Azeri gas is a very important source in meeting the needs of Turkey and European countries in the coming period in terms of energy security," Yildiz told reporters in Istanbul.

The agreement will open the way for securing supplies to the European Union's flagship Nabucco gas pipeline project, he added as his Azerbaijani counterpart described the accord as "historic."

The signing ceremony was also witnessed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who is in Turkey to attend a meeting of an Asian security grouping on June 8.

The agreement fixes the price and amount of gas to come from the second phase of production at Azerbaijan's vast Shah Deniz fields, expected to begin in 2016 at the earliest, Yildiz said.

The minister refused to disclose the financial details of the deal, which was also signed by the heads of Azerbaijani state energy firm SOCAR and Turkey's state gas company BOTAS.

The 3,300-kilometre (2,050-mile) Nabucco pipeline between Turkey and Austria, scheduled to be completed by 2014, is the key component of the EU's ambitious Southern Corridor plan to bypass Russia in bringing Caspian Sea gas through Turkey to Europe.

Energy-rich Azerbaijan is seen as a key potential supplier for Nabucco, which is competing with Russia's South Stream pipeline project to meet gas demands in Europe.

Source: AFP

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