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Turkey to buy Iran gas despite new sanctions

3 Dec 2012, 5.03 pm GMT

Turkey to buy Iran gas despite new sanctions

Ankara, 3 December (Argus) — Turkey will continue buying Iranian natural gas and will make payments in whatever way is required to maintain supplies of a “strategic” necessity, prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

His comments follow US Senate approval of new sanctions targeting Iran's oil and shipping industries and curbing the country's ability to carry out transactions in gold or other precious metals.

The legislation does not block Iran from selling natural gas but follows Turkish statements that Iran is using its payments for gas to buy gold in Turkey and ship it back to Iran. Iranian gas accounts for about 20pc of Turkey's consumption and Ankara pays for this gas in Turkish liras to Iran's accounts at Turkish bank Halkbank. The US sanctions demand that payments for Iranian gas be held in the purchasing country and used only for permitted trade.

Erdogan was speaking at a joint news conference with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Russian supplies account for about 60pc of Turkish gas, and Putin said Russia will consider expanding the 16bn m³/yr Blue Stream pipeline under the Black Sea if it can find a suitable Turkish partner.

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