Turkey has alternatives to Russian oil, gas: Erdogan

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Dec 3, 2015.
Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Dec 3, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

ANKARA (AFP) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that Ankara could find alternatives to Russian oil and gas, as bilateral tensions escalated over the downing of a Russian warplane.

"It is possible to find different suppliers," Erdogan said in a televised speech, referring to Qatar and Azerbaijan.

The shooting down by Turkish fighter jets of a Russian warplane on the Syrian border on November 24 has plunged relations between Moscow and Ankara into their biggest crisis since the Cold War.

The Turkish strongman said Russia had made "no sign" that the crisis would affect their energy partnership, but he implied that Ankara was seeking new suppliers.

Erdogan this week visited the Gulf country Qatar where he agreed a deal for LNG purchases, while his Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu travelled to energy-rich Azerbaijan.

Turkey depends on outside suppliers for 90.5 percent of its oil and 98.5 percent of its natural gas, the president said.

Addressing concerns over possible natural gas shortages, Erdogan said Turkey can also use its renewable energy resources.

Russia's energy minister said Thursday that Moscow has suspended talks on their joint TurkStream project to pipe gas to Turkey and southern Europe.

Erdogan dismissed the remark as a "lie", saying that in fact Turkey had suspended the project - and long before the plane incident - because of Russia's "non-compliance with our demands".