Weak lira adds nearly $4 bln to Turkish natural gas bill

Turkey relys on imports for around 90 percent for its energy needs

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The weakness in the Turkish lira has added nearly $4 billion to Turkey's natural gas bill since the beginning of the year, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Wednesday.

Turkey is reliant on imports for around 90 percent for its energy needs, meaning the lira's 19 percent fall against the dollar on political concerns has boosted what it pays for energy.

So far this year, the cost has risen by around 11 billion lira ($3.8 billion lira), Yildiz told reporters in Ankara. He also said there had been an 8 percent drop in Russian gas sales to Turkey in the last 5-6 months, without giving further details.

Low Turkish electricity prices coupled by a move towards renewable energy have seen a drop in the use of from relatively expensive gas, pushing down demand.

Yildiz added he had sent a draft inter-governmental agreement to Russia on the proposed Turkish Stream project, and was awaiting a response.

The controversial plan would see a pipeline built via the Black Sea, through Turkey and on to southern Europe, bypassing Ukraine, but it has been beset with problems.

"It will not be us who delays the project," Yildiz said.

($1 = 2.8830 liras)

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