Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Bulgaria on Wednesday of deliberately delaying the implementation of the TurkStream natural gas pipeline project on its territory and said Moscow can find ways to bypass Bulgaria if needed.
Putin was speaking in the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi following talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
The pipeline, crossing beneath the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey and set to stretch to Turkey's neighbors, will have a total capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters. Turkey will receive 15.75 billion cubic meters of the gas, while the remainder will go to southeastern Europe. The capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year is equal to the energy demand of 15 million homes.
TurkStream begins on the Russian coast near the town of Anapa and runs over 930 kilometers through the Black Sea to come ashore on the Turkish coast in the Thrace region, near the town of Kıyıköy.
The second line is expected to go from Turkey through Bulgaria, then to Serbia, Hungary, and Slovakia. With the first segment of the pipeline completed, negotiations are ongoing in Europe for the next segment.
Vucic on Wednesday told Putin that Serbia has almost completed the construction of the TurkStream on its territory.
The first phase of the pipeline, to supply Turkey first, is expected to go online in the first days of January 2020. The Russian president will visit Turkey on Jan. 8 to participate in the launch of the project, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday. The second section is expected to be completed in 2020.
Of the two onshore lines, one is being built by Turkey's state-owned oil and gas trading company, Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ) to connect to the Turkish grid. A BOTAŞ-Gazprom joint venture is building the second line toward Europe.
The project is the largest-diameter offshore gas pipeline in the world laid at such depths. The world's biggest construction vessel, the Pioneering Spirit, carried out the deep-sea pipe laying.