Turkish Stream Gas Pipeline Reaches Turkey

The construction of the Turkish Stream on the territory and in the waters of Russia seems to have been completed. According to the navigational portal Marinetraffic, Pioneering Spirit, a pipelaying ship, has crossed the border and entered the economic zone of Turkey. The last time the ship transmitted a signal on the AIS (automatic identification system) was on August 29, marking it around 200 km from the coast in the Black Sea. Its speed in this case was 0.1 knots (4.4 kilometers per day). Throughout August, the laying of the gas pipeline averaged 3.5 km per day.

Judging by the location and possible progress in the last three days, Pioneering Spirit has already laid 190-200 kilometers of the first thread of the Turkish Stream. Pioneering Spirit’s location was confirmed by data on the Siempearfish supply vessel in the Netherlands and the Flevogracht cargo vessel, which delivered pipes from Bulgaria’s Varna on August 1.

The pipelayer is expected to finish its work in the Black Sea on November 1, however, according to technical specifications, within two months, Pioneering Spirit will be able to lay no more than 300 kilometers of the required 700 km. If the data is correct, then perhaps the November stop signals a break for the winter storms, as in November and December the work may reach the very center of the Black Sea.

At the end of June, during a visit to the Pioneering Spirit pipelayer, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller told the Russian president that the construction of the first thread of the Turkish Stream would be completed in March 2018 and the second thread in 2019.

21% of the first thread of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline has already been laid and even a break will not prevent the timely construction of the offshore section of the 937 km pipeline. The work, judging by the pace, is going faster than scheduled.

Data on the construction of the gas pipeline is confirmed by the announcement of Gazprom CEO, made on 31 August, that two lines of 220 kilometers have already been laid. Work on laying the shallow part of the two threads of the pipeline was carried out by another pipelayer of the Swiss company Allseas - Audacia. This vessel has already left the Black Sea and is in Spanish Cadiz.

Mid-August, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that the point of the gas pipeline's exit to the land of Turkey had been agreed.

"There were different views on where this should be. North of Kiyykei village was decided upon- a place most effective and optimal from an economic and geographical point of view," Novak said.

The two threads of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline will ensure the supply of 32 billion cubic meters of gas per year, bypassing Ukraine. From the first thread, 12 billion cubic meters will flow to the domestic market of Turkey, and the remaining 4 billion cubic meters, as stated by the Turkish authorities, will be submitted to the construction of the "Southern Gas Corridor" from Azerbaijan to Greece and Italy.

The second thread of the Turkish flow is to supply Europe. Last February, Gazprom, Edison SpA (an energy company in the field of electricity and natural gas headquartered in Milan, Italy) and DEPA SA (the public natural gas supply corporation of Greece) signed a memorandum of understanding on the supply of natural gas from Russia to Greece and from Greece to Italy. Another option is the supply of gas through Bulgaria, which plans to build a gas hub and relies mainly on Russian gas. The head of Gazprom said, according to Interfax, that the demand for Russian gas in South and South-Eastern Europe is growing rapidly. "In the countries of this region, the growth rates are really impressive," Miller said. "In Turkey, demand has increased by almost 26%, in Greece by 12%, in Bulgaria by 14%, in Hungary by 31%, in Serbia by 47%, and in Austria by 77.5%".

There is already one gas pipeline in the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey: the Blue Stream, built by Gazprom in 2002. About 13 billion cubic meters of gas were supplied by the 1213 km pipeline last year.

The construction of the Turkish Stream will be a significant blow to Ukraine. "For Ukraine, the implementation of this project will have negative consequences, not as great as from the Nord Stream, but the loss of approximately 15 billion cubic meters of transit from 70 billion cubic meters of the current is a very large amount," said the head of Naftogaz Ukrainy, Andrei Kobolev.

Today, Ukraine receives about $2 billion per year for the transit of Russian gas, and the construction of the Nord Stream-2 and the Turkish Stream will reduce revenues five-fold. After the contract expires and two new bypass routes are put into operation, Gazprom plans to reduce transit through Ukraine to 15 billion cubic meters per year.

At the same time, the Turkish flow may fall under new anti-Russian sanctions, a law recently signed by US President Donald Trump in which it states that foreign companies are prohibited from investing or providing goods and services for Russian gas pipeline projects of more than $5 million-worth per year. The construction of the Turkish Stream is now provided by the pipelayer of the Swiss company Allseas. According to experts, the cost of freight can be EUR 250-300 thousand per day. The company itself has not given comment on the possible consequences of the anti-Russian sanctions.

David Drummers

04 September 2017 16:51