ccee.ada.edu.az | April 2015 No: 15
By Ilgar Gurbanov is an analyst on Russian Foreign Policy and Energy Security of Strategic Outlook from Azerbaijan.
On December 1 2014, during his official visit to Turkey, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the suspension of South Stream, blaming the EU for its “unconstructive” position. In fact, the realization of pipeline had become untenable as a result of various legal, political and financial issues, such as the EU’s Third Energy Package, the Ukraine crisis and the ensuing sanctions over companies involved in South Stream (Stroytransgaz and Gazprombank). That day, Turkish BOTAŞ and Russian Gazprom signed a Memorandum of Understanding for construction of a new offshore gas pipeline with 63 bcm/a capacity, to run under the Black Sea to the Turkey-Greece border. Some 16 bcm of this amount will be supplied to Turkey in the first phase in December 2016. In the second phase, the remaining 47 bcm will be delivered to the planned gas hub near the Turkish-Greek border – on the Turkish side – to transport Russian gas to Europe.
The key question is whether the Turkish Stream will be a competitor for the Trans-Anatolian or Trans-Adriatic Pipelines, which envisage the delivery of 16 bcm of Azerbaijani gas to Turkey and Europe by 2018 and 2020 respectively. There had been similar tensions between the South Stream and Nabucco projects; while previously Nabucco offered an alternative to South Stream, now Turkish Stream presents an alternative to TANAP/TAP.
However, Nabucco failed due to political and financial uncertainties, and was subsequently redesigned as Nabucco-West, after Azerbaijan and Turkey initiated TANAP in 2012. When Azerbaijan opted for TAP over Nabucco-West in June 2013, Baku’s choice was interpreted a positive development for Russia’s South Stream; Azerbaijan refrained from angering Russia as a pipeline competitor.