BAKU (Combined Sources)–Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that officials from Turkey and Azerbaijan would discuss changing the price at which Ankara purchases Azeri natural gas.
The news comes after Azerbaijan threatened to cut off natural gas sales to Turkey if Ankara and Yerevan establish diplomatic relations before a Karabakh deal favoring Azerbaijan’s interests is signed. Turkish media has been reporting that moves by Turkey and Armenia to normalize their relations have “disturbed” and “angered” Azerbaijan, which sees the opening of the border as a threat to its national interests.
Aliyev has also been reaching out to Russia, signaling that Azerbaijan is open to having Russia serve as a transit country for his country to begin selling its gas to Europe. The Azeri President met in late April with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, who said there was a good chance for the countries to strike a gas accord.
Russia has been trying to shore up support from Azerbaijan and other Caspian Sea gas suppliers to buck the Nabucco pipeline for a planned Russian alternative.
Turkey says it wants to boost Azeri imports for domestic consumption and eventually resell the gas to Europe via the planned Nabucco pipeline. The Azeri President has also said he has no objections to contributing to the planned Nabucco pipeline as well.
The Turkish Prime Minister was in Baku Wednesday to pledge continued support to Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process and to negotiate a new price for Turkey to purchase Azeri gas.
Turkey buys 6 billion cubic meters of gas from Azerbaijan’s Shakh Deniz basin each year at $120 per 1,000 cubic meters, which is about half of what it pays for Russian and Iranian gas.
The new price, which Erdogan said would be more “fair” than the discount at which Ankara buys gas from Azeri state oil company Socar, may affect ongoing talks to boost the volume of Azeri gas to Turkey. He was speaking at a joint news conference with President Ilham Aliyev after the two held talks on their relations, the Karabakh conflict, and the normalization of Turkey-Armenia relations.
“I cannot defend that price as fair. It is not fair,” Erdogan said in reference to the current price Turkey pays for Azeri gas. “Our energy minister will meet Socar officials today, and I hope the price will come to a more just point.”