Turkey offers to ship oil, gas to India via Israel

November 24th, 2008 - 11:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghBangalore, Nov 24 (IANS) Visiting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Monday offered to supply crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) to India via Israel in a bid to boost bilateral trade between the two countries.”To meet India’s growing energy requirements, we are ready to ship oil and gas via Israel. We are planning an undersea pipeline between Turkey and Israel through the Mediterranean Sea. Supertankers will be able to carry the supplies to India over the high seas from the Ashkelong port in Israel,” Erdogan said at a business luncheon meeting here.

Petroleum and energy ministers of India, Israel and Turkey will meet in Istanbul in the next two months to work out the modalities, including quantum of supply, pricing and logistics.

Apart from diversifying its energy sources, India will also be able to reduce the shipping cycles by avoiding the crowded Suez Canal and the longer route around the Cape of Good Hope.

“During my meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi last Friday (Nov 21), we have committed to increase the bilateral trade between the two countries to $6 billion by 2010 from $2.6 billion currently,” Erdogan said addressing captains of Indian industry and the 150-strong trade delegation accompanying him.

According to Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler, the multi-purpose offshore pipeline project - Med Stream - between southern Turkey and Israel via the Mediterranean Sea is planned to transport oil, natural gas, water, electricity and fiber optic cables.

“India has expressed interest in the project to import oil from the line through the Red Sea with loading tankers from an Israeli port (Ashkelong). The project is estimated to cost about euro 8 billion (Rs.496 billion),” he said.

India can also ship crude oil by the shorter route from Ceyhan port in southern Turkey in less time (16 days) than through Turkish Straits, which takes around 39 days.

Turkish trade body president Rifat Hisarciklioglu said the Med Stream project involved a cluster of five pipelines to be built along the Ashkelong-Eilat route.

The route will travel from the Black Sea oil terminal, Samsun, to Ceyhan on the Mediterranean coast, and then through an undersea pipeline to Ashkelong port. It then takes the land route to Eilat in the Gulf of Aqaba.

Addressing members of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), Erdogan said Turkey offered excellent investment prospects for Indian firms in diverse areas.

“About 60 Indian firms have already invested in Turkey and many more have expressed interest. We have a very favourable investment climate for overseas firms with incentives and investor-friendly schemes,” Erdogan noted.

Lauding the Bangalore-based GMR Infrastructure for bagging the $394-million (Rs 15.8-billion) contract to develop and modernise the Sabiha Gokcen airport in Istanbul, Erdogan said the Turkish construction industry was looking forward to participate in India’s massive infrastructure projects in view of its domain expertise and ranking in the world.

“The Turkish construction industry has emerged as the third largest in the world after the US and China, with a turnover of $110 billion in 2007. We are upbeat about the prospects of our industry bringing its expertise for the various infrastructure projects in India,” he added.

Turkey has also expressed interest in exploring the mining industry in India.

Erdogon, who was on a two-day trip to Bangalore since late Sunday, also visited India’s second largest IT bellwether Infosys Technologies’ campus in the electronics city earlier in the day and the satellite centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) before leaving for Istanbul late Monday.

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