Opening Asia for Russia

21.11.2018 114 просмотров

The construction of the offshore section of the TurkStream gas pipeline has been completed. The world community learned about this at the beginning of this week from reports from world news agencies, as well as a teleconference in which Russian and Turkish presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan took part. Some experts are convinced that US attention to this project is currently not very close, but the situation may change very soon. Because a lot is at stake. Including for countries such as Bulgaria and Greece.

Today, the US and some European countries (primarily Poland and the Baltic countries), which do not like Russian "energy expansion", have thrown all their efforts into opposing another project for the supply of Russian gas to European countries - Nord Stream-2. They did not even attach much importance to the fact that the construction of the offshore part of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline was ahead of schedule. Or they pretended that they were not very interested in it. And in vain, since the main battle between supporters and opponents of increasing Russian gas supplies to the EU countries will soon flare up precisely on the “Turkish front.” 

dedicated to the completion of the construction of the offshore section of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline. They gave the command to weld the last joint of the second line of the pipeline, which is being built in the Black Sea. By the way, the pipe laying took place at a depth of 2,000 meters. In total, the offshore part of the gas pipeline "ate" about 1,800 kilometers of pipes.

Putin and Erdogan made "ceremonial" speeches, saying that a huge and difficult work had been done. As the Russian president noted, pumping gas is not just drilling a hole in the ground. This process is complex and high-tech — with the strictest observance of all environmental standards.

Offshore pipe-laying was completed a month and a half ahead of schedule, which did not go unnoticed by the presidents of the two countries. But in this case, something else is important: the pipe-laying vessel Pioneering Spirit is no longer involved in the Turkish project, it can be sent to another very important facility for Russia - & nbsp; the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea. Earlier, the head of Gazprom, Alexei Miller, said that more than 200 kilometers of the offshore section of this gas pipeline had already been built.
As the Russian president noted, the Turkish Stream "allows you to maintain a balance and take into account the interests of each other" and "certainly will turn Turkey into a serious European hub." And they, these interests, are still far from defined. Now the Turks will continue building the gas pipeline on their territory. According to the plan, deliveries of Russian gas to Turkey should begin at the end of next year, which, in fact, Erdogan confirmed during the same teleconference, noting also the huge significance of the project for relations between Russia and Turkey.

Indeed, this is true, because Turkey is a very important sales market for Russian "blue fuel" for Russia. This country is one of the three largest importers of Russian gas after Germany and Italy. So far, Turkey receives Russian gas from two sources - through the Blue Stream in the Black Sea directly and in transit through Ukraine. The completion of the Turkish Stream will allow Turkey to fully receive & nbsp; Russian gas without an intermediary-transiter, which is Ukraine.

Trade has always been an essential element of both political and economic interaction between countries, since they are simply forced to take into account each other's interests. In this aspect, Ukraine's policy towards Turkish Stream and Nord Stream 2 is quite clear: the Ukrainian budget, due to the fact that gas flows will be redirected, may lose serious revenues - about 2-3 billion dollars annually. Ukraine has long ignored the construction of the Turkish Stream. And only recently, voices began to be heard from Kyiv that at least the construction of the second line of the gas pipeline should be stopped by any means, since this causes serious losses for the Ukrainian economy. Gazprom reacted to these statements, noting that Ukraine either overslept this construction, or “was so busy fighting Nord Stream 2” that it did not notice how a gas pipeline was laid across the Black Sea. 

The US motivation is also quite understandable: Washington today is actively lobbying for the supply of more expensive American liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe, although there are public accusations against Russia and European countries supporting Nord Stream 2. The main message of the United States is that Europe should get rid of its energy dependence on Russia. And Washington allegedly tries its best to help it in this, since it also concerns the national security of the overseas country. forgot about the Turkish Stream. In fact, as many experts note, this is a misleading feeling, because the situation may soon change dramatically. Most likely, no matter how titanic efforts the United States makes to stop the construction of Nord Stream 2, they will no longer be able to do this. The pipeline will be built - even if Washington fulfills its threats and imposes sanctions on companies implementing the project. As the head of Gazprom, Alexei Miller, stated earlier, the Russian gas holding will complete the pipeline in any case - even if European energy companies, frightened by US sanctions, refuse to continue to implement the project. This is already a principled Russian position, it has been verified  in the highest echelon of power and Russia will defend it with all its might.

Another thing is Turkish Stream. Only one branch is intended for the Turkish market, the second one has been announced for the European one. The Russian authorities have repeatedly stated that the construction of the second branch requires "reinforced concrete" guarantees from Brussels that Russian gas will be in demand. And this is where the United States can again come into play, which previously played a key role in stopping the South Stream project, which involved the construction of a pipeline to the coast of Bulgaria. In 2014, this country succumbed to pressure from Washington and Brussels, freezing construction. As a result, Russia made a knight's move: the South Stream project had to be abandoned, and Turkey received an offer to become a partner in the new project. This is how the Turkish Stream appeared.

If we put aside political speculations about Nord Stream 2, the appeal of the United States and opponents of the gas pipeline to European values, the increasing share of Gazprom in gas supplies to Europe, etc.  d., then a rather interesting situation looms. Despite the fact that the capacity of Turkish Stream is almost half that of Nord Stream 2, it is likely that this project will become a new battlefield between Russia and the United States. Yes, there are no problems with the first branch - it will be built "right on schedule", but with the second branch, Russia may have serious problems. In Washington, it was well understood before that to convince Turkey, with which the United States has had very difficult relations in recent years, not to build a gas pipeline is a hopeless business, time would be wasted. Turks are now much more independent than Europeans in making decisions that concern their national interests. Silent glanders to push through them does not work. But the countries through which Russian gas can go through the second branch of the Turkish Stream, the United States is much easier to "convince".

amount to 63 billion cubic meters of gas. The Turkish Stream, which replaced it, became a two-line one, its capacity decreased by half. For Russia, as well as for Turkey, this project was not very easy, as Ankara had to make significant concessions - for example, Turkey received a good discount on Russian gas, Gazprom had to part with the high-margin Turkish market. But for Russia as a whole, the risks associated with the Turkish Stream have by no means decreased. It is clear that in its current form, the Turkish Stream does not replace the South Stream in any way. And if Nord Stream 2 is backed by the largest energy companies in Europe and the German authorities interested in implementing the project, then there are no such powerful forces in the south of Europe. And the United States also understands this well - it is difficult to fight such a European heavyweight as Germany, it will be much easier to convince Greece or Bulgaria with a carrot and a stick. This has been done before - and why won't it work now?

Meanwhile, Bulgaria has already learned from bitter experience and is even trying to blame Brussels for forcing it to freeze the South Stream, as a result of which Sophia ended up at the broken troughs - no Russian gas, no new jobs, no cash receipts for transit, in general, nothing. But Bulgaria needs Russian gas, and it speaks directly about it. However, they can still be intimidated, just like Greece. 

Until now, the intrigue with the Turkish Stream is manifested in the fact that Russia itself has not yet decided on the route of the second string. Whether it will be a truncated version of the pipeline through Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary to Austria, or through Greece to Italy. Also, some experts do not exclude the option that the possibility of laying a gas pipeline from Greece to the north of Europe is being carefully studied. In any case, the intrigue remains - and this is also a matter of political bargaining, and Russia is probably trying to play its own game and wants to force everyone to play, as they say, "in the dark" intentionally. Why hand over trump cards to opponents in advance? Maybe the route has not yet been determined for other reasons. Be that as it may, but in any case, no matter what route the second line of the Turkish Stream takes, the United States will actively join the confrontation and attack & nbsp; any project announced by Russia. Otherwise, if Moscow realizes all its energy ambitions in Europe, then there will not be so much room for American uncompetitive LNG in European countries. And Washington is well aware of this: it will be problematic, to put it mildly, to sell liquefied gas, which is at least a third more expensive than Russian pipeline gas. European business is able to calculate its profit well, and the political ambitions of the United States are far from convincing to everyone. But if the Europeans start sabotaging American gas, preferring Russian gas for quite reasonable reasons, then the US energy expansion into Europe can be forgotten. Therefore, all new Russian gas pipelines, through which gas will be transported to Europe, are like a bone in the throat for the United States. cooperation with Russia, scold Serbia that it buys exclusively Russian gas, and the Hungarians are hinted that they need not want to buy more expensive liquefied gas from the LNG terminal in Lithuania. All this fits perfectly into the American concept of Europe's energy independence. And many European states have to take it into account in their practice.

As for Russia, it is more profitable for Russia to pull the second line of the Turkish Stream through Bulgaria to Austria, as it will become a small copy of the South Stream. This route has been worked out for a long time and well - and Bulgaria now has its own trump card: if Berlin can lay a gas pipeline from Russia, then why can't Sofia do it? It turns out that this is not a political project at all, but an economic one, which Russia tirelessly convinces everyone of.

On the other hand, it may turn out that some European countries interested in laying a branch of the Turkish Stream on their territory , will start a sharp rivalry with each other, and in this case Russia will have to take into account not only economic expediency, but also the political situation. Thus, Bulgaria has long been trying to persuade the Russian authorities to have a branch go through its territory, but Athens is not asleep, showing its interest in extending the Turkish Stream gas pipeline to Greece. According to information agencies, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras intends to raise this issue during his visit to Russia on December 7. This, in particular, was reported by a Greek competent source, recalling that back at the November 15 summit, the Greek Prime Minister spoke about Greece's interest in hosting continuation of the Turkish Stream on its territory.

Be that as it may, it is too early to put an end to the issue of the Turkish Stream route, and the main struggle for gas flows is far from over.


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