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Turkey not to allow LNG tankers to Ukraine across Bosporus -- ambassador

Turkey will not allow the passage of tankers with liquefied natural gas (LNG) across the Bosporus Strait for fuel supplies to Ukraine, Turkish Ambassador to Kiev Yonet Can Tezel said in an interview with Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform on Friday.

The Ukrainian media reported on Friday, citing Deputy Energy and Coal Minister Oleksandr Svetelik that Ukraine was in talks with Turkey on the possibility of liquefied natural gas supplies to its territory across the Bosporus Strait.

The Turkish ambassador said Turkey's position was based exclusively on the aspect of maritime shipment safety as the passage of tankers with hazardous cargoes posed a threat to residents of Istanbul, which is divided by the Bosporus Strait.

"The passage of LNG tankers through the Bosporus is a problematic issue. First of all, this relates to safety in the strait which is quite busy and narrow. Istanbul is a densely populated city while LNG tankers are considerably larger than oil tankers. In case of incidents, and such things happened with oil tankers, the consequences for the population and Istanbul would be disastrous," the Turkish ambassador said.

A decision on banning the passage of such vessels does not depend on a requesting country or the international situation, the ambassador said.

"We would have replied in the same way to any other Black Sea neighbor, which would have turned to us with a request for the passage of LNG-tankers across the Bosporus," the ambassador said.

Ukrainian Deputy Energy and Coal Minister Svetelik said on Friday Ukraine planned to build an LNG-terminal worth 846 million for receiving LNG supplies.

Svetelik said he believed the construction of a gas pipeline to connect the LNG terminal with the country's gas transportation system would cost 113 million.

"As of today, there are some factors, which are slowing the implementation of this project. In particular, the unfavorable factor is related to Turkey's uncertainty about giving its consent to Ukraine for the free passage of tankers with liquefied gas across the Bosporus," he said.

Gas supplies to Ukraine

Ukraine's major gas suppliers are currently Russia and European countries that resupply Russian natural gas in a reverse-flow mode.

Ukraine imported 4.1 billion cubic meters of natural gas in January-February, including 2.3 billion cubic meters from Europe, according to data provided in March by Ukrtransgaz.

In the same period last year, Ukraine also imported 4.1 billion cubic meters of natural gas but the entire volume came from Russia.

In February, Ukraine imported 2.1 billion cubic meters of gas. Reverse-flow gas supplies from EU countries totaled 1.2 billion cubic meters, including 1.1 billion cubic meters from Slovakia, 100 million cubic meters from Hungary and 60 million cubic meters from Poland. Russia supplied 900 million cubic meters of natural gas over that month.

Ukraine's annual gas consumption amounts to about 50 billion cubic meters.

[Source: Itar Tass, Kiev, 20Mar15]

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