Turkey's Ruling Party Presents Gas Reform in Step Towards Trading Hub

ANKARA, March 8 (Reuters) - Turkey's ruling AK Party presented a draft law to parliament on Wednesday aimed at establishing a competitive natural gas market as the country attempts to become a gas trading hub bringing together suppliers and consumers.

President Vladimir Putin proposed setting up a gas hub in Turkey in October after explosions that damaged Russia's Nord Stream gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea.

Turkey, which currently imports all its gas needs and has extensive LNG import infrastructure, believes it can leverage its existing and new trade relations to become a hub.

The bill submitted on Wednesday says the proposed changes would increase safe and affordable access to energy for Turkish consumers through a diversification of supply and the entry of additional players in the market.

The regulations are also aimed at building a trustworthy market where domestic and foreign companies can trade natural gas and allow both state energy company BOTAS and private entities to import natural gas, the text of the bill said.

The draft law also aims to split BOTAS' natural gas supply and infrastructure operations in order to encourage competition and free trade in the market.

Some Western capitals have voiced concern that a Turkish hub including Russian gas could allow Moscow to mask exports that are sanctioned by the West over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

A gas hub summit was scheduled last month but was postponed to March due to massive earthquakes that hit Syria and Turkey, which also plans to start offshore gas production in 2023 and ramp up output over the next few years.

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