ANKARA, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Turkey will complete a preliminary study this week on construction of nuclear power stations as part of its strategy to avoid future energy shortfalls, officials said on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's office will receive the study and is expected to make a decision soon on building between three and five nuclear power plants with a total capacity of 5,000 megawatts, they said.
"Seismic research for the plants and examination of their environmental effects have been made. Our studies covered eight different potential sites," an official told Reuters.
"A number of issues such as seismic faultlines, water, transport, communications and infrastructure are being discussed in a sensitive way in order to choose the best location."
Turkey straddles seismic faultlines and is highly prone to earthquakes.
The Prime Ministry and Energy Ministry will jointly decide the final location of the plants.
Previous efforts to build a nuclear power plant in Turkey stretching back 30 years have failed due to cost and opposition from environmentalists.
Turkey has no nuclear power plants at present. Oil and natural gas imports, along with coal and hydro-electric power, account for most of its current needs.
But a recent spat over natural gas between Russia and Ukraine, Turkey's Black Sea northern neighbours, along with recent falls in Iranian gas exports to Turkey, have highlighted the country's vulnerability to external energy shocks.
Russia stepped in on Tuesday to help Turkey cover a four million cubic metre shortfall in its Iranian gas imports. Russia already supplies 65 percent of Turkey's total gas imports.
Turkey has also suffered from record high oil prices.
Turkish officials have said in the past the nuclear power plants will be funded partly by the public sector but mostly by private financiers.
Turkey aims to put its nuclear power plants into service in 2012 under energy ministry projections.
It has begun talks with leading nuclear power producers such as the United States, Britain, China and Japan on technology transfer and the costs.