Baku, Azerbaijan, Aug. 30
By Maksim Tsurkov - Trend:
The Turkish Stream gas pipeline project, initiated by Russia, as if came to a standstill.
This gas pipeline was to deliver Russian gas to Turkey and from there to Europe.
The Russian side's loud statements about launching the construction of the first branch of the gas pipeline in June faced with the harsh realities on the energy market.
Russia's desire of starting the project implementation was not enough.
The construction did not start. Moreover, several operations related to the construction were cancelled. Gazprom broke the contracts with contractors, cancelled the tenders, changed the work plans to expand infrastructure by wasting money and time.
There are a number of reasons causing such a situation. The Russian monopolist's inability to agree on a gas price played a negative role. In response to Gazprom's offer regarding a gas price, Turkey firmly rejected. Moscow does not have an intergovernmental agreement with Ankara either. It will not appear at least until November 1 when Turkey will hold the re-run parliamentary election.
Moscow should accept the fact that the situation on the energy map has changed. Russia's hegemony on the European gas market is under threat after the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor project, initiated by Azerbaijan, has started. Europe diversifies its supply sources and routes. At present, it can confront Russia in the fundamental gas issues with more confidence.
Turkey is generally turning into the main gas hub in the region. Of course, the Turkish Stream would be a good basis for Ankara to achieve this goal. But the participation in the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor gives Turkey an advantage in discussing the key issues of the Russian project.
Turkey is well aware that the project will not be implemented without it. If it is implemented, it will have other name, concept. In short, this will be a completely different project. The events around the Turkish Stream show that Ankara dictates the terms.
In particular, it was reported that Gazprom will have to reduce the planned capacity of the gas pipeline. The construction of only one of four branches of the Turkish Stream mentioned in the intergovernmental agreement draft testifies to this.
Perhaps, this decision was made for financial reasons. The energy prices have recently dropped to a very low level. Respectively, the energy producing countries' income is directly proportional to the prices. In such circumstances, the countries try to save on the large projects, which have not been implemented yet. If we recall that Russia is building the Power of Siberia gas pipeline to China (the project is estimated at $60-70 billion) at the same time, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that the construction of the Power of Siberia-2 gas pipeline will cost $ 55 billion more.
In this situation, Russia must choose a direction of great priority. Everybody knows the result after chasing two hares. And when Moscow finally makes its choice, the situation with the Turkish Stream will be clear.
Trend commentator Maksim Tsurkov
follow the author on Twitter: @MaksimTsurkov