REUTERS - Turkey will have access to European gas under a Nabucco pipeline deal and has abandoned its demand to buy 15 percent of the gas, a major obstacle to finalising the deal, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told Reuters.
The pipeline -- connecting Turkey and a major natural gas hub in Austria -- is to be built so that gas can flow in an west-east direction, as well as east-west as planned, to allow Turkey that access, he said in an interview late on Saturday.
Yildiz said however that Turkey would have a right to take a share from 15 billion cubic metres, or half of the total 31 billion cubic metre gas flowing through the pipeline. He did not specify what percentage Turkey would have a right to.
Transit agreements for the European Union and U.S.-backed Nabucco pipeline are set to be signed in Ankara on Monday by Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria. Germany is also a partner in the project.
Nabucco will help Europe diversify its natural gas suppliers and delivery routes in addition to strengthening Turkey's own energy security, Yildiz said. Possible suppliers for the $7.9 billion euro project include Iraq, Egypt, Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia and Turkmenistan.
"An article in the intergovernmental agreements states that six partner countries in the project will be given 50 percent of the gas if they want. This is an important article," he said.
"We had negotiated 15 percent of the gas in transit, or 4.5 billion cubic metres. Now we are looking for the gas we will take from the 50 percent, not 15 percent," he said.
Nabucco gas will enter Turkey at three border points and Yidliz said there would be no obstacle for other countries to join the project.
"In the later stages of the project, Russia can join the project if it sees this as profitable. There is no obstacle to this," the energy minister said.
He denied that there was any impact on financing Nabucco from the global economic crisis.
"It is true that the global crisis created anxiety, but I do not believe that money will be a problem for a project like Nabucco with buyers of the gas lining up," Yildiz said.
Turkey is still seeking to raise its gas imports from Azerbaijan to 14 billion cubic metres from 6 billion, he said.