Athens offers to build TurkStream across Turkish-Greek border

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 17.11.2018 00:56

Athens is actively working in Brussels for the TurkStream natural gas pipeline project to pass through the Turkish-Greek border, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said. Tsipras noted that in this way, the TurkStream would reach Europe through Greek territory.

"We are promoting significant prospects in Brussels for expanding the TurkStream gas pipeline to Greece, Tsipras said during his speech at the 3rd Thessaloniki Summit 2018 in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki with the leaders of Balkan countries in attendance, according to Sputnik.

The project envisages the construction of a gas pipeline consisting of two lines, each with a length of 930 kilometers and each with the capacity to deliver 15.7 billion cubic meters of gas per year. The first line is intended for gas supplies to Turkish consumers, while the second will supply gas to south and southeastern Europe.

On the other hand, Igor Yushkov, a leading analyst of the National Energy Security Fund, a lecturer at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, was cited by Vestnik Kavkaza as saying that the Greek route as the extension of the TurkStream does not seem to be a priority now, since running a second pipeline to Bulgaria would be the most cost-effective for Russia.

The project's first line will carry 15.75 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas to Turkey. The project will have a total throughput capacity of 31.5 bcm with the second line that will go to Europe.

Options for extending the pipeline through Bulgaria and Serbia or through Greece and Italy are currently being considered.

Russian energy giant Gazprom is planning to start the construction of the overland section of the TurkStream's second gas pipeline in 2019. The project's officials said recently the project will be completed by the end of 2019 as planned.

In his speech at the summit, Tsipras further said, "Currently, the possibility of extending a branch of the East-Med pipeline to the Balkans is being explored."

Tsipras stated that the Southern Gas Corridor, also covering the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), is of primary importance for Greece and is included in the European Union's (EU) energy strategy. "The TAP is planned to be connected to the Greece-Macedonia line, as well as the Greece-Bulgaria interconnection line, for the delivery of gas to the Western Balkan countries," Tsipras added.

Meanwhile, the natural gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean have led to hard negotiations over which route to transfer the commodity to global markets in the cheapest and fastest way.

The ongoing deadlock in Cyprus to reach a peace deal between Cyprus' Turk and Greek sides obstructs any commercial initiative to share the Eastern Mediterranean island's natural resources fairly and their transfer to the global markets.

So far, a number of studies by Turkish and Israeli experts argue that a potential pipeline going through Turkey and benefiting from Turkey's pipeline infrastructure is the most logical and affordable solution.

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Mustafa Akıncı said on Monday an accord, reunifying the ethnically split island, could unlock a deal to convey gas discovered to global markets through neighboring Turkey's existing pipeline network.

Akıncı emphasized that Turkey is the cheaper, faster and "logical" route to markets for East Mediterranean gas, but that a Cyprus peace deal must precede any such plans, adding that everyone could win from this situation.

Akıncı made the remark in response to an ambitious pipeline project linking East Mediterranean gas deposits and conveying them directly to Europe. The European Union has funded a feasibility study on the proposed Eastern Mediterranean pipeline that has the backing of Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy.

Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling activity in the Eastern Mediterranean while arguing that the Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area.

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