* Talks with Qatar have begun
* Turkey seeking to diversify gas supplies
* Ready to buy from U.S. if Washington will sell
By Orhan Coskun
ANKARA, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Turkey is seeking to buy an additional 6 billion cubic metres (bcm) of liquefied natural gas, including some from Qatar, under long-term contracts to meet its growing energy needs, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said.
Talks with Qatar on the purchase have begun, but the world’s biggest LNG producer may not provide all of the additional fuel, Yildiz told reporters late on Tuesday. Turkey could also buy from the United States if it is willing to sell.
Turkey wants to procure the LNG by 2015, he said.
The country of 75 million people is heavily dependent on imported energy and is seeking to diversify supplies as demand grows. It is set to overtake Britain as Europe’s third-biggest electricity consumer within a decade.
Turkey buys natural gas from Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan and LNG from Nigeria and Algeria under long-term contracts. It currently has no long-term contracts with Qatar, which mainly sells to Asian markets.
Turkey has asked Qatar to help build an LNG import plant on the Gulf of Saros, an inlet in European Turkey, which would have an annual capacity of 5-6 billion bcm.
U.S. Republican Senator Richard Lugar said last month that Congress should give NATO allies access to burgeoning U.S. natural gas supplies to help reduce their dependence on natural gas from Russia and help wean Turkey off Iranian purchases.
U.S. domestic production has boomed, leading to a glut. But domestic manufacturers argue opening up exports would raise their gas prices, and have attracted some strong supporters for their cause in Congress.
Turkey’s daily gas demand was about 125 million cubic metres in late 2012 and is likely to rise to nearly 220 million during the harsh winter months, energy ministry officials say. (Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Erica Billingham)