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Europe interested in Turkish stream despite 'political opposition by Brussels'

Updated: 2016-09-20 15:14

European countries are interested in the Turkish Stream gas pipeline from Russia because of their energy needs and transit fees. In turn, Russia needs an alternative to transporting gas via Ukraine. However, the EU political elite opposes new Russian pipelines in Europe.

Russia is waiting for the signing of the final permit documents on the Turkish stream gas pipeline in the coming days, a source in the Energy Ministry recently told RIA Novosti.

At the same time it was also reported that Greece is interested in participating in the project and can provide its territory for the pipeline.

During his visit to Greece, Russia Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich underscored that Moscow is interested in developing economic ties with Athens.

Despite the potential mutual benefits, energy cooperation between Russia and Greece remains only on paper so far. Its future will depend on the decisions by Brussels.

He added that the pipeline would allow for attracting investments to Greece and create thousands of new jobs.

What is more, like some other European countries, Greece was interested to be part of the South Stream project. The pipeline is expected to go via the Black Sea and then to Bulgaria, the Balkans, Italy and Austria.

Despite the fact that European companies were interested in the project, in April 2014 the European Parliament adopted a resolution recommending abandoning the initiative. Russia announced the suspension of South Stream and proposed Turkish Stream as an alternative.

It also was suspended after a Russian Su-24 aircraft was downed by a Turkish F-16 fighter in Syria on November 24, 2015. In June, following Turkey's apology to Russia for the November incident, the sides began a reconciliation process.

While construction a pipeline in Turkey is unlikely to meet obstacles, building a pipeline in Europe (for example, via Greece) is likely to face opposition from the European Commission. For example, the Nord Stream-2 was also opposed by Brussels.

According to him, a pipeline could be constructed to the Greek-Turkish border and there will be discussions, talks and bargaining over its future.

He noted that despite the potential difficulties the Turkish Stream pipeline is very important for Moscow due to the problem with transit via Ukraine.

"Russia and Ukraine have a transit agreement which expires in 2019. Then Ukraine could raise the transit fee for Gazprom. So, the Russian company has to look for alternative ways. Moreover, Gazprom has long-term contracts with European countries," the expert said.

What is also important, currently Gazprom holds a 31-percent share in the European gas market. Russian natural gas is cheaper than gas from Norway and Algeria.

Head of the National Energy Security Fund Alexander Pasechnik noted that Russia should develop alternative gas routes to Europe.

"Gazprom is trying to bypass Ukraine. There are two alternative routes – Nord Stream via the Baltic Sea and the Turkish Stream via the Black Sea," he said. Until recently, Moscow said it planned to abandon gas transit via Ukraine. But if Kiev offers adequate terms and prices after 2019 Gazprom is likely to continue to work with Ukraine.

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