A spy scandal also risks darkening the tense relations between Russia and Turkey. Turkish special services have detained the deputy managing director and five more employees of Bosphorus Gaz, a major buyer of Russian gas, which until 2018 was owned by Gazprom.
Emel Ozturk and her subordinates are suspected of political and military espionage. According to the Turkish press, they were caught red-handed while handing over confidential information to an agent of a “large foreign energy company.” The investigation is being conducted by the Turkish National Intelligence and the Office for Combating Financial Crimes in Istanbul. All suspects face criminal charges.
Ozturk, according to the investigation, has been in contact with three representatives of a foreign company since at least April 2020, to which it transmitted information about the volumes of gas purchases by Turkey and prices. The damage from its activities is estimated at billions of dollars.
The foreign company in whose interests Ozturk acted is Gazprom, Independent Commodity Intelligence Services (ICIS) reports, citing sources familiar with the situation.
According to them, the Russian monopoly received data on a gas field discovered by Turkey in the Black Sea, as well as figures on gas flows and its cost.
The spy scandal threatens negotiations to extend contracts for the supply of Russian gas to Turkey, ICIS sources say.
In 2021, the contracts for 7.75 billion cubic meters per year expire, and the possibility of their prolongation is already questionable due to the conflicts between Moscow and Ankara in Syria, Libya, to which the war in Nagorno-Karabakh was added.
For Bosphorus Gaz, the investigation may end with the revocation of the license, one of the participants in the Turkish gas market does not exclude. The company has contracts to import 4 billion cubic meters of Russian gas annually. One of them – 0.75 billion cubic meters – expires in 2021.
In addition, Gazprom will have to agree on the extension of supplies to the largest state importer BOTAS. One contract with the company expires in 2021 (for 4 billion cubic meters), and the other – in 2028 (for 16 billion cubic meters).
Let us remind you that in the summer Turkey almost completely abandoned Russian gas. Supplies to what was once the second largest market after Germany have dropped sharply since last winter. In January it was 2.254 billion cubic meters, in February – 1.119 billion, in March – 0.394 billion, in April – 0.473 billion, in May – 0.342 billion, and in June – only 0.002 billion.
In July and August, pumping resumed, but its volume is significantly lower than last year – about 0.8 billion cubic meters.
Turkey is replacing Russian gas with raw materials from Azerbaijan, which has maintained the status of the largest supplier to the country since March.
At the end of last year, supplies of Azerbaijani gas from the Shah Deniz field increased by 27%, and Ankara intends to continue to increase them.