An impressive example of the results that can be achieved through Turkish-Russian cooperation in energy, the TurkStream natural gas pipeline is now ready to receive its first influx of gas on Jan. 8 at a ceremony in Istanbul attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The two-line project has already been loaded with gas and was initially conceived to replace, or at least diminish, gas flow from the Trans-Balkan Pipeline (TBP), which had been transferring Russian gas to Turkey and Europe via Ukraine. Although the future of TurkStream's second line is yet to be clarified in terms of when and how much gas it will transfer to the European system, its realization as a major gas pipeline project is expected to further strengthen European gas interconnectivity, hence contributing to continent-wide efforts for price convergence and market liquidity.
In an attempt to secure its foothold in the European gas market with new routes into southeastern Europe that bypass, or at least decrease, its key role in the delivery of gas to the continent, Russia embarked on the construction of two alternative pipelines, namely TurkStream and Nord Stream II. Europe's largest gas supplier, pumping out approximately 200 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year, Russia sees an advantage in supplying Greece, Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia via the TurkStream II line's new interconnector at the Turkish-Bulgarian border, reversing gas flow in the Trans Balkan Pipeline (TBP), writes Julian Bowden, a senior visiting research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies (OIES), in a recent report titled "SE Europe Gas markets: Towards Integration."
Once the first line of TurkStream's two routes become fully operational, gas moving through the TBP will be halted and diverted to the new pipeline, set to fulfill the project's initial purpose. "Reversing the TBP from Turkey to at least as far as Bulgaria would mean that Turkish Stream II could be used to supply current Russian gas clients, such as Bulgaria, Greece and the Republic of North Macedonia," Bowden explained in an exclusive exchange with Daily Sabah.
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