, ANKARA, Aug 6 – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday signed protocols on cooperating in the fields of natural gas and oil.
The accords, whose signing was witnessed by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, came during a one-day visit by Putin to seek Ankara\’s support for the South Stream pipeline project aimed at protecting Moscow\’s dominant share in the European gas market.
Details of the documents were not immediately clear.
A senior Russian official said Wednesday that the memorandum on natural gas would see Ankara allowing the start of exploration work for building part of the South Stream pipeline in Turkish territorial waters.
The South Stream project is a direct rival to the Nabucco pipeline project, backed by the European Union, that would carry Caspian and Middle East gas to Europe via Turkey, by-passing Russia, thus diversifying gas resources.
Russian gas giant Gazprom is in a pertnership with Italian energy firm Eni to build South Stream.