Dec 03 2018

Turkey gives Russian gas strategy a boost through Turkish Stream - analysis

Turkey, through the Turkish Stream gas pipeline linking Russia to Turkey’s European shores, is contributing to an essential element of Russia’s multi-pronged, long-term strategy of remaining Europe’s major gas supplier, former EU diplomat and Carnegie Europe scholar Marc Pierini wrote in an article published on Monday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin last month participated in a ceremony in İstanbul marking the completion of the sea section of the TurkStream natural gas pipeline. The TurkStream, when completed, will consist of two lines with the capacity to transport 31.5 billion cubic metres worth of gas from Russia. The first line will carry 15.75 billion cubic metres of gas to Turkey while the second line will transfer Russian gas to Europe through Turkey.

“The project is a vivid illustration of Moscow’s strategy to strengthen its position in supplying gas to Europe while reducing its reliance on the Ukrainian transit corridor,’’ Pierini wrote, stressing that the project symbolises Turkey’s independent decision making and of the country’s significance in the wider region for Ankara.

While celebrating the blossoming friendship between Turkey and Russia, Turkish Stream will undoubtedly increase Ankara’s dependence on Moscow for its energy needs, he stressed.

The Turkish Stream is not part of the EU’s Energy Union plans as it does not contribute to diversification of supplies, Pierini wrote, however, it will work to reinforce Russia’s market predominance in both Turkey and the EU.

Russia, however, is looking beyond the European continent to sell its gas, into the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, the article stressed.

Following the massive discoveries in the so-called Zohr field to the north and east of the Egypt’s fertile Nile River delta, Russia bought a 30 percent stake from the Italian energy group ENI in 2016. It is also interested in Lebanese waters and has made moves to control both the oil and gas sector in Syria, despite the ongoing war, Pierini wrote.

“Russia is involved in pipeline deals in the Kurdistan region through a number of oil and gas companies, although the actual exports would have to take place through Turkish territory or possibly even through Syria in the distant future,’’ he highlighted.

Russia is slated to keep dominating gas supplies to the EU, amounting to 40 percent of extra-EU imports in 2016—although new developments such as a rapid development of LNG exports to Europe from other sources could upset that balance.