Russian state-run natural gas company Gazprom’s top manager, Alexei Miller has announced that the company will provide Turkey two billion cubic metres of gas through Turkish Stream pipeline rather than Ankara’s request of additional three billion cubic metres through Blue Stream.
Miller said, “Various options are being considered. No final decision has been taken yet. However, at least two of the three billion cubic meters of gas requested will be supplied through the Turkish Stream gas pipeline,” in a press conference on Thursday.
However, in contradicting statement last week Russian Energy Minister, Alexander Novak had said that they would annually increase 1 billion cubic metres through Blue Stream pipeline according to Russian media accounts.
Russia agreed with Turkey to increase its annual gas deliveries from 16 billion to 19 billion cubic metres through Blue Stream in late November 2014.
However, with their latest statement, Russians indicate that they will not honor their previous pledge to supply gas to Turkey, considering also that Turkish Stream, their mentioned designation for gas deliveries, is currently not a working project.
Gazprom Deputy Chairman, Alexander Medvedev announced in mid-September that Turkish Stream pipeline project will not be implemented by the end of 2016 as previously planned because of continuing disagreements between Turkey and Russia.
Indeed, both countries were meticulously planning for the project since Russia relinquished its plans for the $40 billion South Stream pipeline project in December 2014 due to objections from the European Union (EU) on competition grounds.
The new Turkish Stream project is an alternative pipeline which is planned to bring gas to Europe through Turkey, bypassing Ukraine, with an aim of pumping 63 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas per year - 47 bcm of which will be delivered to Europe - by 2020. The rest of 16 bcm will be allocated for domestic use in Turkey.
The pipeline will have four lines, each line one will have an annual capacity of 15.75 bcm and the project is planned to lay out a total of 660 kilometres of pipeline through the old South Stream route beneath the Black Sea.
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said on Tuesday that the company has plans to build two lines of the pipeline, which will have an annual capacity of 32 billion cubic metres of gas.
Turkey acquires Russian gas from both Blue Stream, which is also routed beneath the Black Sea and a trans-Balkan pipeline, which is bypassing Ukraine, a current Russian political foe.
Russian relations with Turkey have recently been moving in a negative direction, due to several disagreements between the countries rapidly gaining steam on multiple fronts.
Turkey and Russia disagree with each other over the Syrian civil war. Turkey and the US have consistently defended their view that the Assad regime has to go and back opposition groups, while Russia has supported the regime since the beginning of the conflict.
Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a notice to the Russians that the country puts its formidable relations with Turkey in danger with their Syrian intervention, at a press conference in Brussels on Tuesday following a meeting with Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel.
Erdogan singled out a couple of Russian economic projects in Turkey while speaking to Turkish journalists on his plane as he was traveling to Japan, following his recent European visits.
He said, “If the Russians were not building the Akkuyu [nuclear power plant] in Mersin, then, someone else would do it. They have already invested $3 billion there. Therefore, Russia should be more sensitive on this issue.”
Akkuyu located in Turkey’s southern province of Mersin, is Turkey’s first nuclear power plant project and it will be built and operated by Rosatom, which is the Russian state atomic energy corporation.
The plant, valued at $22 billion will be financed by Russia. The construction will begin in 2016 and the planned four reactors will become fully operational in 2023 according to the agreement between the countries signed in 2010.
Japanese Toshiba, which is charged with building Turkey’s second nuclear power plant in northern Black Sea province of Sinop, has announced on Thursday that they are ready to take a new initiative for Turkey if the country wishes.
“As for our natural gas relations, we are the number one natural gas consumer of Russia. Losing Turkey will be a serious cost to Russia. Turkey could choose to find its natural gas from various providers [excluding Russia] if necessary,” Erdogan added.
Turkey’s Former Energy Minister, Taner Yildiz said “As a person involved in the agreements, I do not think either country wants to be at the point we are at.”
“We are paying for the natural gas we are buying. It is neither donation nor gift. The projects we are putting forth serve our mutual interests,” Yildiz added.
Turkey is Russian state-run natural gas company Gazprom’s second biggest export market after Germany.