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Turkey’s Botas denies debt owed to Gazprom stands at $27.5bn

Gazprom gas is piped to Turkey via the TurkStream and Blue Stream pipelines.
Gazprom gas is piped to Turkey via the TurkStream and Blue Stream pipelines.

The debt load owed to Gazprom (Moscow/GAZP) by Turkey’s government-run natural gas monopoly Botas has not reached $27.5bn and there are no negotiations for a debt restructuring plan with the Russian company, Botas has said in a statement.

Botas (@botastr) put out the statement this week in response to claims that surfaced on Turkey’s HalkTV.

In May, ahead of the Turkish elections, Turkey’s energy minister confirmed that Russia had agreed to defer the country’s payment of some of its $20bn gas debt.

In 2022, Deutsche Bank (Frankfurt/DBK) extended a €925mn three-year loan to Botas.

Also in 2022, unnamed sources told Bloomberg that Botas was seeking a $2bn loan to pay debts to suppliers, including Gazprom.

In 2022, Turkey’s overall natural gas consumption fell 11% y/y to 54bn cubic metres (bcm) while imports rose by 7% y/y to 55 bcm.

Russia took a 39% share in Turkey’s gas imports with 22 bcm, while Botas imported 52 bcm of gas, accounting for 96% of Turkey’s gas imports.

In 2021, Botas signed an agreement with Gazprom to import 5.75 bcm of gas per year via the TurkStream pipeline. It also has a 16-bcm per year gas contract for deliveries via the Blue Stream pipeline.

Turkey’s government provides  gas price subsidies via Botas.

Since June 2022, Turkey’s central bank has not provided Botas with cheap FX.

Meanwhile, Botas recently signed re-export deals with Moldova (700mn cubic metres (mcm)/year), Romania (1.5 bcm/year), Bulgaria (1.5 bcm/year) and Hungary (275 mcm/year).

Turkey’s government claims that it is on course to produce significant volumes of gas from fields found off the Black Sea coast.

Separately, it emerged on October 19 that, according to a letter seen by ICIS, the European Commission is probing a deal allowing Bulgaria’s gas incumbent Bulgargaz to access gas supplies via Turkey amid questions over potential EU competition rule breaches.

In the letter, the EU Directorate-General for Competition reportedly asks Bulgargaz to send a comprehensive list of documents, including information related to supply agreements with Botas and capacity bookings on the Turkish-Bulgarian border.

Furthermore, reported ICIS, it asked Bulgargaz to submit information on contracts agreed or subject to negotiations in which Bulgargaz may be acting as an exclusive agent or distributor for gas supply to Bulgaria or other EU member states.

There is concern that Bulgargaz may be the only EU-based company with access to natural gas via the Turkish infrastructure and is possibly acting as an intermediary for gas secured in Turkey and transited to the region.

The European Federation of Energy Traders has raised concerns about possible competition breaches.

The Bulgarian government that came to power in an April general election has, meanwhile, also commissioned an investigation into the supply deal. It said the probe was part of a wider review of the work of the previous caretaker administration. That review has been called on the alleged grounds that the matters in question lacked transparency and would cost the country billions.