TURKEY- RUSSIA RAPPROCHEMENT OVER GAS PIPELINE
Russia and Turkey signaled on Tuesday that they would resuscitate the development of a natural-gas pipeline between them, potentially undermining European efforts to reduce reliance on Russian energy with fuel piped in from Azerbaijan, reports Selina Williams.
The pipeline, known as TurkStream, would bring gas from Siberia under the Black Sea. The project was sidelined after Turkish jets shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border in November, causing a diplomatic rupture.
European officials have complained that Russia, which supplies a third of the European Union’s natural-gas, uses energy as a political weapon, and has set a policy of finding new sources.
The EU views the development of a southern gas corridor, a 2,200-mile network that starts at the Caspian Sea and ends in Italy, as vital for diversifying Europe’s energy sources.
Pipelines for the southern corridor are under construction and the first gas deliveries to Europe are expected in late 2019, but with TurkStream back on track to come online the same year, it might not make commercial sense to expand capacity as planned.
The equal financing of the project by the two sides could save Russia’s Gazprom over €2 billion in construction costs.
“We told (the Russian side) that there are no problems with the Turkish Stream project. We’ve proposed to divide expenses on the construction of the pipeline’s section crossing our territory into halves,” the Turkish president told reporters after Tuesday’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg.
“As for the remaining part of the pipeline, a preliminary agreement has been reached regarding its financing on a 50-50 basis,” said Erdogan.
The decision to resume the Turkish Stream pipeline, a major project for Russia and Turkey, was announced this week after the two presidents met. The project was put on hold late last year after a Turkish fighter shot down a Russian warplane in Syria.
The pipeline was announced by President Putin in 2014 as an alternative to the abandoned South Stream project. Gazprom and Turkey’s Botas signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction of the pipeline at that time. The 1,100-kilometer Turkish Stream pipeline is to deliver natural gas from Russia’s Black Sea coast to Turkey, before continuing on to Greece.
Initially, Gazprom wanted to deliver 63 billion cubic meters of gas per year, but that capacity was later cut to 32 billion cubic meters. Turkey would take about 14 billion, with the rest going to Europe.