MOSCOW, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Russian energy company Gazprom said it approved financing of up to $320 million to help build a natural gas pipeline planned through Turkey.
Russian news agency Tass reported that Gazprom approved a 3.5-year loan to aid the construction of the planned Turkish Stream pipeline. Funds target construction, purchase contracts and general administrative expenses.
Gazprom is looking at Turkey as an alternative to Ukraine, through which most of the Russian gas pipelines run. Geopolitical issues associated with Ukraine make legacy routes risky and Turkey's geographic position makes it desirable as a bridge to transport energy resources from Central Asian suppliers to the European market
Turkish Stream, which mirrors the route for the now-abandoned South Stream project, would run under the Black Sea to Turkey and then to the European market. South Stream was scrapped because of concerns about Russian business practices expressed by some European countries.
Turkey is also slated to host a string of pipelines carrying natural gas from Azerbaijan as part of a European diversification scheme.
Gazprom's announcement comes just days after French energy company ENGIE said it was building its European footprint in the liquefied natural gas market with the opening of a new terminal in Turkey.
The French company said it was tasked with delivering a fast-track floating regasification unit so that product can be delivered to the Turkish market in gaseous form.
According to the Turkish government, the country is second only to China when it comes to demand for natural gas. The country is dependent on imports to meet its demand as 25 percent of its natural gas needs are met by domestic resources.