Russia: Turkish gas pipeline progress continues

On-again, off-again relationship between Moscow and Ankara impeding energy ties.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Sept. 1, 2016 at 9:14 AM
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ISTANBUL, Turkey, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- A Russian energy official met in Istanbul with Turkish leaders to review options for moving ahead with a gas pipeline project, Russia's Gazprom said.

Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak hosted Alexei Miller, the chairman of Russian energy company Gazprom, to review options for a pipeline project dubbed Turkish Stream.

"The parties reached an agreement on the earliest possible completion of the procedure for issuing authorizations required to launch the Turkish Stream project," a Gazprom statement read.

Political ties between Russia and Turkey have soured in recent years, though both sides have continued sporadic reviews for the potential for energy cooperation. Russian military intervention in Syria frustrated the Turkish government and its allies in the NATO alliance and last year's downing of a Russian military jet in Turkish airspace was met with measured anger by the Kremlin.

Turkey is a key energy hub given is geographic position between Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. The country is tapped to host some of the pipelines in a European network called the Southern Corridor, a string of transit arteries from the Shah Deniz reserve basin in the Azeri waters of the Caspian Sea meant to add diversity to a region dependent on Russian energy supplies.

Turkish Stream is a Russian alternative to a broader South Stream pipeline network meant to feed European markets. Bulgaria's decision in 2014 to back away from South Stream led in part to a derailment of the project.

Gazprom said the Turkish pipeline nevertheless remains on the table.

"The commercial negotiations on Russian gas supplies to Turkey will continue," a company statement read.

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