Russian Turkstream pipeline brings Turkey closer to energy hub ambitions - analyst

The construction of the Turkstream double gas pipeline carrying Russian gas to Turkey and beyond will increase Turkey’s reliance on Russia for its energy needs, but has the payoff of bringing Turkey closer to realising its long-running aim of becoming a regional energy hub, Micha’el Tanchum said in an article published by the Turkey Analyst.

Given that Turkstream will bring Russia’s share of Turkey’s gas consumption to 35 percent, “entrenching Russia's unassailable position in Turkey's energy market,” and in part counteracting Turkey’s attempt ay diversify its energy supplies through the construction of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline from Azerbaijan.

Once operational next year, Turkstream will grant Russia an additional route to bring gas to Europe, consolidating its hold over the European energy market and allowing it an alternative route from the current pipeline running through Ukraine.

Additionally, “Russia's partnership with Turkey forms part of its larger objective to re-establish itself as an indispensable actor in the Middle East whose interests must be taken into account,” and will improve its position in opposition to the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, Tanchum said.

The deal will also work in Turkey’s favour in a variety of ways, not least Turkey’s desire to become an energy hub “where buyers and sellers meet and where prices are determined,” as Turkey’s energy minister put it.

The closer relations built around the new pipeline may also have played a role in fostering Russian-Turkish cooperation more broadly, such as in Syria, where the two countries have negotiated to prevent a battle in Idlib, a province in the west of the country.

“Ankara's ambition to establish Turkey as an energy hub has now led it to accept an outsized role for Russian natural gas import supply mix,” Tanchum said. “It has also led Ankara to embrace Moscow as a partner in the realization of its strategic ambition.”