* Source says will not affect Turkey commitment to Nabucco
* Dismissal over domestic policy - analysts
By Orhan Coskun
ANKARA, Oct 14 The Turkish government has sacked
the head of pipeline operator Botas, a partner in the $11.8
billion Nabucco natural gas pipeline project, according to the
Official Gazette on Wednesday.
The state-run newspaper did not provide a reason for Saltuk
Duzyol's dismissal, but a Botas source said that Turkey and
Botas' commitments were firm to the 31 billion cubic metre
pipeline, conceived to ease Europe's dependence on Russian gas.
"The removal of the Botas general manager will in no way
impact Turkey's stance concerning Nabucco," a source at Botas
said on condition his name not be used.
"Turkey considers Nabucco a major project in the field of
energy. Turkey is determined to fulfil all commitments it has
undertaken with the July 13 accord," the source said.
Nabucco is in competition with Russian rival South Stream,
which is trying to lock in Moscow's share of the gas market. The
European Union-backed pipeline, however, is lacking supply
commitments, making it a riskier undertaking without necessary
Duzyol became general manager and chairman at Botas in
December 2007 after serving as deputy chairman from 2004,
according to Botas' website.
He served through a rocky period in the Nabucco project when
Turkey was demanding 15 percent of the line's throughput for
domestic use or re-export, which caused major rifts among the
Nabucco consortium members. The demand was subsequently dropped.
Botas has played a key role in trying to turn Turkey into an
hub for European oil and gas supplies through a series of
Analysts said his dismissal reflected splits over domestic
"He was not in line with the administration's policies.
Regarding certain issues, he was a setback for the ministry,"
said independent energy analyst Haluk Diresekeneli.
"He wanted to keep Botas a powerful player in the (domestic)
market and he was against the administration's policy of
unbundling of Botas and selling contracts to private gas
companies," said Direskeneli.
Turkey is trying to reduce Botas' gas import contracts to 20
percent of the market.
Botas, which imports almost all of Turkey's natural gas from
Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan and most of its oil, has struggled
to recoup some 10 billion lira ($6.9 billion) it is owed, almost
all from state-owned power plants.
Nabucco's other shareholders are OMV (OMVV.VI) of Austria,
Germany's RWE (RWEG.DE), Hungary's MOL (MOLB.BU), Romania's
Transgaz TGNM.BX and Bulgaria's Bulgargaz.
(Additional reporting by Thomas Grove and Ayla Jean Yackley;
writing by Thomas Grove)