The head of Russian energy company Gazprom, Alexei Miller, said the first permits for a Turkish gas pipeline are in hand. Photo by Anatoli Zhdanov/UPI | License Photo
MOSCOW, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Russian energy company Gazprom said it received the first permits from the Turkish government to start implementing a new natural gas pipeline project.
Through "diplomatic channels," the Russian company said it received the first official permits for a project now dubbed TurkStream.
"The issuance of first permits is good news for Gazprom," Gazprom Chairman Alexei Miller said in a statement. "This move of the Turkish side reflects the interest of Turkey's government in the TurkStream project and marks the transition to its practical implementation."
According to Gazprom, agreements were reached last week to launch the project following negotiations between Miller and Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak.
The project's forward momentum was thwarted several times because of simmering acrimony between both countries. Turkey is a member of NATO and Russia's stance on the conflict in Syria has at times been at odds with the Western military alliance.
Turkey is also a key energy hub given its geographic position between Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. Pipeline networks from Azerbaijan that are meant to break the Russian grip on the European energy sector are planned through Turkey.
Gazprom proposed TurkStream as an 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 that project.
The Russian energy company in a statement said "the first gas pipeline string will be used exclusively for gas supplies to the Turkish market."
No timelines for the project were offered by Gazprom.