Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu suggested on August 10 that gas pipelines TANAP (Trans Anatolian Pipeline) and Turkish Stream could be connected. According to him, Turkey would only buy 16bn cm of Russian gas per year via Turkish Stream, and the rest can be exported to Europe via TANAP.
His statement comes amidst a historic rapprochement between Turkey and Russia following a nine-month hiatus caused by Turkey's downing of a Russian jetfighter in November. During talks on August 9, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin spoke of the possibility of reviving plans for Turkish Stream, a proposed gas pipeline from Russia to Europe via Turkey.
Cavusoglu's statement is a political reassurance to Turkey's long-standing partner Azerbaijan, which has spearheaded an alternative gas transit route dubbed the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) that comprises TANAP as well as two other pipelines.
However, the connection between the two pipelines remains impractical in the foreseeable future. For starters, TANAP's capacity is limited at just 16bn cubic metres (cm) per year, with the possibility to expand it to 24bn cm by the middle of the next decade. Secondly, Azerbaijan's state oil company Socar is a majority shareholder in TANAP and will probably resist plans to export Russian gas through the pipeline instead of Azerbaijani gas. Thirdly, Turkish Stream remains in the idea phase, whereas progress on works on the SGC has been significant, and the project is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2018.
An unnamed source from the European Commission told Trend news agency on August 10 that the EU remains committed to diversifying energy supplies and that any pipelines on its territory have to adhere to this principle.
Russia accounts for a fourth of the EU's gas supply, which is delivered through a network of pipelines that crosses the Baltics, Ukraine, Belarus and Poland. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine that began in 2014 has seen European leaders scramble for alternatives lest the conflict escalates and threatens gas supplies to the bloc.
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