Turkey's Naturgaz denies sending Iranian gas to EU
Turkish natural gas transporter Naturgaz on Thursday denied sending Iranian gas into the European Union (EU) via Greece, casting doubt on EU plans to ban Iranian gas imports which may not exist.
Naturgaz Managing Director Ali Arif Akturk said that Iranian gas imported into Turkey under long-term deals was consumed domestically at a considerable remove from the Greek border.
"In practice Iranian gas is not reaching Greece," Akturk said, adding that it was most likely consumed in Turkish regions bordering Iran.
The European Union is poised to ban imports of Iranian gas as part of a set of new measures to ratchet up pressure on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear programme.
Diplomats from EU member states have started preparing a package of sanctions against Iran with a goal of formally adopting them at a meeting of foreign ministers on Oct. 15 in Luxembourg.
Akturk said that gas exported from Turkey to Greece is most probably of Russian origin, a major supplier to Turkey alongside Azerbaijan, both of which deliver gas under long-term deals.
Russian export pipelines arrive in Turkey very close to the Greek border.
Turkey is contracted to export limited volumes of 750 million cubic meters (mcm) annually to Greece under a deal signed in 2007, but in practice has been sending less.
In 2011 it exported just 714 mcm to Greece, Eurasia Group analyst Naz Masraff said.
European governments and the United States are searching for fresh ways to pressure Tehran into scaling back its nuclear programme after diplomacy foundered earlier this year. Tehran denies its nuclear work has any military intention.