By David Ljunggren
(Reuters) -Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday said a natural gas hub could be set up in Turkey fairly quickly and predicted many customers in Europe would want to sign contracts.
Putin proposed Turkey as a base for gas supplies earlier this month after the Nord Stream pipelines under the Baltic Sea were damaged in September by blasts. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan says he agrees with the idea.
Putin said it was very difficult to work directly with European commercial partners. The European Union, which previously turned to Russia for about 40% of its gas needs, is seeking to wean itself off Russian energy.
"It is easier for us to work with Turkey. President Erdogan is a man of his word ... and it is easier for us to control the Black Sea," Putin told a televised news conference.
"This is a quite realistic project and we can do it fairly quickly, and there will be enough people who want to conclude a contract ... I have no doubt that in Europe there are many who want to," he said.
Putin also said Russia's Gazprom had been allowed to inspect the damage done when blasts hit the Nord Stream gas pipelines. Moscow accused British navy personnel of being responsible, a charge London dismissed.
Sweden and Denmark have both concluded that four leaks on Nord Stream 1 and 2 were caused by explosions.
Putin said the blasts had torn a 40-metre length of pipe out of Nord Stream 1 and hurled it into Nord Stream 2, causing damage. In total there was a 259-metre break in Nord Stream 1, he said.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren in OttawaEditing by Chris Reese and Matthew Lewis)