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Russian experts say decision to lay Turkish Stream pipeline is timely, sensible move

February 09, 2015, 16:49 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic

MOSCOW, February 9. /TASS/. Russian experts believe that the just-unveiled plan for laying the Turkish Stream gas pipeline is both timely and feasible. After 2019 there will be no other sound alternative for transiting Russian gas to Europe.

Gazprom and Turkey have coordinated the land section of the Turkish Stream gas carrier for further exploration, Gazprom’s CEO Alexey Miller confirmed on Saturday after visiting Turkey. The surface section of the pipeline will be 180 kilometers long, and the maximum throughput will stand at 63 billion cubic meters a year. Turkey will consume 16 billion cubic meters, while the European countries will get 47 billion cubic meters via a newly-built gas hub on the Turkish-Greek border. It will be up to the European consumers whether to lay extensions from the hub to their own territories.

Infographics Russia's gas pipelines to Europe by 2018 Russia's gas pipelines to Europe by 2018

Russia's gas giant Gazprom intends to completely abandon gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine after 2018 with the help of a new pipeline to Turkey. Infographics by TASS

Moscow and Ankara in December 2014 declared plans for laying a gas pipeline under the Black Sea instead of the terminated South Stream project that Russia had to abandon due to European Union’s policies. Turkish Stream will bypass Ukraine, a country with which Russia has a gas transit agreement expiring in 2019.

The European Commission is critical of Gazprom’s intention to drop the Ukrainian gas transit route. European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefovic, in charge of the Energy Union, said the other day that the Russian-Turkish gas pipeline is economically not viable and that Europe lacks both the necessary gas distribution infrastructure and the corresponding demand.

Most Russian experts have described the Turkish Stream project as both sensible and timely.

An expert at the Oil and Gas Producers’ Union of Russia, Rustam Tankayev, is quoted by the daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta as saying that Ukraine’s aging gas pipeline system is gradually getting obsolete amid a shortage of funds for an upgrade program. "By the moment Turkish Stream will go operational there will be a very big question mark over Ukrainian transit - and not for political, but technical reasons," he said with certainty.

"The European Commission has all the way pressed for trading gas through special hubs, and this is precisely what Gazprom will be able to offer soon, when the Turkish Stream project is up and running," the deputy general director of the National Energy Security Fund, Alexey Grivach, told the Vzglyad online daily. "Not an inch of an ‘alien’ pipeline will be laid on European soil. In what way Europe will prefer to take the gas from the hub and distribute it inside its own territory is entirely its own business. This is what the European Commission has pressed for all the way." There is not a single contract in which Gazprom assumes the obligation to deliver gas to the recipient countries. One distribution point will be created for all, he said.

The Turkish Stream project is a sensible and balanced response to all the obstructions that the European Commission has posed to Russia, deputy senior lecturer at the chair of the state control of the economy of the presidential academy RANEPA, Ivan Kapitonov, has told TASS. "The European Union has practically no choice. All other gas alternatives would be far more costly," he said.

"The Europeans find it quite easy to create gas distribution infrastructures from the hub on the border with Greece. It will be quite realistic to expect its emergence by 2020. And it will be far less costly than a new infrastructure for liquefied gas from Qatar or Algeria," Kapitonov said, adding that in contrast to the oil prices those of gas had not experienced such a great slump and were unlikely to change in the near future.

The analyst sees no risks Russia may become heavily dependent on Turkey. In his opinion the Turkish partners are reliable. Besides, the Power of Siberia gas pipeline, currently in the construction phase, will enable Russia to conduct a more flexible policy and to redirect large amounts of gas from Europe to Asia, if need be.


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