Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Hilmi Guler is slated to visit Tehran next week to discuss reduction of rates of gas imports from Iran, IRNA reported.
Guler, who is to be accompanied by a delegation from Turkish state energy firm 'Butash,' said in a press conference Thursday that in all contracts a clause is included which stipulates for changing of prices in a specified period.
Turkey referred to the clause last July to negotiate new rates with Iranian officials Guler adding the specified period was over last month."
The Turkish energy minister is to make a trip to Tehran on Sunday to discuss the matter.
On a question over Turkey's expectations on the amount of decline in imported gas rates from Iran, he said "we cannot determine such a price without further studies."
He also said negotiations should be conducted within a clear framework and based on explicit principals Guler said responding to a question on Turkey's future steps in case of a breakdown of talks with Iranian authorities.
Turkey desires friendly ties with its neighbor Iran, based on clear understanding of the issues and legal and contractual provisions Guler said.
Talks with Iran are proceeding satisfactory the Turkish energy minister said adding "We hope that an appropriate solution will be conjured up similar the one devise with Russia recently."
We have had good results with Russia and hopefully the same will prevail in our discussion with Iran."
Guler said last week that discussion with Russia on negotiating new gas rates to Turkey was successful and "Turkey which used to buy one of the highest rate of gas from Moscow is now purchasing one of the cheapest."
Hence Iranian gas imports are costing Turkey more than Russian gas and "that is the reason for which Ankara has embarked on negotiations with Tehran," he added.
Iran has agreed to a request by Turkey to increase gas exports to the country despite a last month dispute between the two countries over gas prices, press reported in November.
The Persian-language newspaper 'Tosse'eh' quoted Asghar Soheilipour, an advisor to the managing director of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), as saying that Turkey had announced that
it would need more gas from Iran with the start of winter. The increase, Soheilipour added, would bring Iran's annual exports of gas in the current Iranian calendar year of 1382 (ending March 19, 2004) to over three billion cubic meters.
He said Iran's gas exports to Turkey over a period of six months starting March 21 stood at 1.3 billion cubic meters, stressing that Turkey had used Iran's gas "as much as it had requested" over the period.
"There has been no problem in Iran's gas exports to Turkey," Soheilipour stressed.
The remarks by the NIGC advisor followed earlier press reports that Ankara is considering reviewing the agreement over gas purchases from Iran on the grounds that Iran's natural gas is not cheap.
Ankara's announcement drew contradictory reactions by Iranian gas officials.
While NIGC chief Mohammad Mallaki had vowed that Tehran would not renegotiate its gas deal with Turkey, Managing Director of the National Iranian Gas Exports Company Roknoddin Javadi said that his company is considering Ankara's call on Tehran to renegotiate the gas prices.
Iran has already been exporting natural gas to Turkey under a 30-billion-dollar deal, according to which Iran is committed to supply 10 billion cubic meters (350 billion cubic feet) of gas per year.
The two countries launched in December 2001 a 2,577-kilometer pipeline, running through the northwestern city of Tabriz to Ankara, which supplies gas from southern Iran near the Persian Gulf.
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