The Russian Bear counterattacks…
Russia is expected to take steps to achieve its own energy goals and geopolitical plans to transport, under the Black Sea, about 31 billion c.m. of Russian natural gas into Europe. Moscow has reached an agreement with Ankara on the construction of the Turkish section of the Turkish Stream natural gas pipeline. The co-operation protocol signed by Russian Gazprom and Turkish Botas finalises the implementation of this project, as detailed terms and conditions for the construction of the Turkish Stream pipeline have been noted; the project is being undertaken by the newly formed TurkAkim Gaz Tasima AS. The first leg of the pipeline is expected to supply Turkey with Russian gas, while the natural gas that will pass through the second leg of the pipeline will end up in SEE countries.
Moscow plans to connect the Turkish Stream pipeline with the Poseidon pipeline, a planned gas pipeline from Greece to Italy, designed by IGI Poseidon SA, a consortium of Greek DEPA and the Italian Edison S.p.A. On 2 June 2017, Gazprom, Edison and DEPA signed a co-operation agreement to implement this project, and on 25 May 2018, on the occasion of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2018 (SPIEF ’18), Gazprom’s chief, Alexey Miller, and the French EDF Group Gas and Italian Edison’s Marc Benayoun, confirmed their interest for the Poseidon pipeline.
On the occasion of the Greek Foreign minister Nikos Kotzias’ recent visit to Moscow, Russia’s Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov made an open invitation to anyone interested. “…Plans entirely depend on agreements attached to the states concerned. If we are interested in further developing our energy co-operation, we will certainly respond positively“, and added that “…if there is political interest, economic parameters can also be agreed. Most importantly, there is no artificial intervention on the terms of a project, as was the case with the South Stream pipeline“.
“We have repeatedly stated that we are willing to co-operate with regard to the Turkish Stream pipeline. If the EU countries are interested getting the natural gas of this pipeline, it is necessary to ensure in advance that this will be 100% guaranteed by the EU. We are always ready to compete with other producers and other routes, which are now under discussion on the Southern Gas Corridor,” the Russian official said, “as long as competition is as proper as in the case of countries that respect the market economy“. The message from the Russian side is clear…
Bulgarian PM optimistic on gas link to Turkey
Recently, Sofia expressed interest, through statements to Moscow, for deliveries of Russian gas from the Turkish Stream pipeline to the planned Balkan gas hub near Varna, as Bulgaria wants to consolidate its presence in the energy sector in the SEE region, while upgrading its geostrategic position. On the other hand though,the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on June 12 that he was optimistic that the expanded gas link between Bulgaria and Turkey could become operational before the end of June. The project envisions expanding the capacity ofthe gas link from 14bn c.m./year to 15.7bn c.m./year and would allow reverse gas flows from Turkey to Bulgaria.
Bulgaria is making every effort to make possible the transit of Azeri gas to Europe and the expanded gas link was part of those plans. The Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) and the construction of interconnector pipelines to neighbouring countries, such as I.G.B., would ensure that Azeri gas reaches Bulgaria. Bulgartransgaz has agreed to buy 1bn c.m./year of Azeri gas from the Shah Deniz 2 development, enough to satisfy about a third of domestic demand, as it seeks to diversify gas sources.
Through Bulgaria however, Hungary also expects to import Russian natural gas. The Hungarian minister ofForeign Affairs, Peter Szijjarto recently announced that Budapest is considering importing Russian natural gas through Bulgaria and Serbia with the “help“ of the Turkish Stream pipeline. This announcement came after a tripartite meeting that took place recently in Belgrade, between Szijjarto andthe Energy ministers of Serbia and Bulgaria, Aleksandar Antic and Temenuzhka Petkova respectivel. As the Hungarian FM said, “The new route would be a huge contribution to the secure energy supply to our region and we hope that we will have the support of the European Union“.
The rest stakeholders in the region
Greece, on the other hand, has secured transit of its Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) pipeline, which will transport Azerbaijan’s natural gas to Europe. However, channels with Russia remain open; although the deal might still be unsigned, there is a thought to implement the Southeast European Pipeline that will transport Russian gas through the Black Sea and Greece to Italy. Only a year earlier, Greek DEPA, Italian Edison and Russian Gazprom signed the agreement in St Petersburg. The three companies had indicated that they would co-ordinate the development and implementation of the Turkish Stream pipeline and the Poseidon pipeline from the Greek-Turkish border to Italy, in full compliance with the current relevant legislative framework.
In the meantime, Serbia is interested to “enrich” its own energy market through a pipeline, while FYROM has expressed a similar desire to be included in the energy map as it is shaped in the Balkans.
Finally, plans for the arrival of the American LNG to the Balkans, via Croatia or Greece, in order to “boost” the energy market in the Balkan countries are progressing.
The “game” is progressing and is becoming more and more interesting as time goes by…