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Putin, Erodgan Say Israel Gas Export Via Turkey Not Planned

Turkish President Abdullah Gul meeting with Putin in Istanbul on Tuesday. Osman Orsal

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said Tuesday that they don’t plan to export natural gas to Israel via a new pipeline to Turkey.

“There is no such thing on our agenda,” Erdogan said at a news conference with Putin in Istanbul when asked about the gas.

Russia has held talks on shipping fuel to Israel from a pipeline under the Black Sea. Gazprom is negotiating supplying the fuel, Gazprom chairman Viktor Zubkov said March 22.

Israel may not need the extra gas, which could be transported to Syria or Lebanon instead via the planned Blue Stream-2 pipe, Putin said.

“The Blue Stream gas may not go to Israel because of economic considerations,” Putin said. “I don’t think Israel needs the gas because they found a reserve recently.”

A U.S. energy company predicted last week that Israel will have enough natural gas to export to Europe and Asia from the offshore field it is developing. The Houston, Texas-based Noble Energy said the Leviathan natural gas field may hold up to 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Noble raised estimates for the neighboring Tamar field to 8.4 trillion, a 33 percent increase. The production is expected to start in 2012.

In Israel, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said there was never a concrete deal and that talks never got close to a final stage.

Another Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing a sensitive diplomatic matter, said the talks were frozen months ago after the discovery of the large natural gas field off Israel's coast. The field is expected to yield enough gas to meet Israel's domestic needs and to export to Europe.

(Bloomberg, AP)

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