Gazprom granted licence to explore off Turkish coast

Russian state-controlled Gazprom announces it received Turkey’s permit to begin exploration work for Turkish Stream pipeline project

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Russian state-controlled natural gas company Gazprom has announced in a written statement on Monday that it received Turkey’s necessary permit to begin the exploration work for the Turkish Stream pipeline project in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) following Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak’s revelation that Turkey and Russia will sign a formal agreement at the end of June.

“This document envisages engineering surveys for the first line of the project in the Turkish Exclusive Economic Zone and within Turkey’s territorial waters," the statement said, according to Turkey’s official Anadolu Agency.  

Novak previously said Russia was waiting for a permit that is “necessary to begin the exploration work in the EEZ of Turkey and Turkey's territorial waters, where the gas pipeline will lead directly to land,'' according to Russia’s TASS news agency.

''We expect that during the month of June, these permits will be given out, and the construction work on the section of the pipeline will begin,” he added.

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz stated that the Turkish Foreign Ministry received the coordinates last week from the Russian state-controlled company Gazprom and said the necessary permission will be given if the Russians meet the relevant conditions regarding the first line of the project.  

The project was largely discussed in a private meeting on June 13 between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku during the Baku 2015 European Games.  

Both countries have been 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 and each one will have an annual capacity of 15.75 bcm and the project is planned to lay out a total of 660 kilometres of pipelines through the old South Stream route beneath the Black Sea.

Yildiz emphasised that Turkish discussion with Russia is focused on the first line of the pipeline, which has also been the main subject of discussions between Erdogan and Putin during their “very constructive meeting” in Baku.  

Reuters previously reported that Gazprom hopes to create a gas hub at the Turkish-Greek border for transit to Europe, but this depends on “Turkey agreeing to build on its territory and needs EU countries  - many of which want energy independence from Russia - to develop the required infrastructure.”

Novak said Turkey may join the construction of the pipeline’s offshore segment within its EEZ, referring to 250 kilometres of pipes along the Turkish coast.   

Yildiz also said that Turkey is "talking about partnership and ownership.”

“We need to set up the mechanism very carefully for this. We are looking to become a partner in the costs," he said.

The first line of the project is expected to be valued at 3.3 billion euros ($3.73 billion).

Gazprom’s statement also said Turkey “ensured that the project was not in any territorial conflict with the EEZ of its neighbour, Bulgaria, in the western Black Sea.”

Novak announced on June 19 that Bulgaria has renewed its desire to build a natural gas storage facility on Bulgarian soil for the Turkish Stream.

Greece and Russia also signed on the same day a preliminary agreement to build an extension to the Turkish Stream.

Turkey is Gazprom’s second biggest export market after Germany and the country is looking to secure a 15 percent gas discount from Gazprom through the project, according to Turkish government sources.  

TRTWorld and agencies