June 1 (UPI) -- Talks are underway to secure financing to build a natural gas pipeline through Turkish territory, a deputy chairman at Russian energy company Gazprom said.
The natural gas company has a planned $700 million investment in a project that will cross through Turkish territory in an effort to tap deeper into the European market. Most of Russia's gas for Europe runs through the Nord Stream pipeline in the Baltic Sea and through Ukrainian territory, though geopolitical and natural security issues make the latter route risky.
"We've already launched talks with both foreign and Russian banks [for Turkish pipeline financing]," Deputy Chairman Andrei Kruglov was quoted by Russian news agency Tass as saying.
The pipeline, variably dubbed Turkish Stream or TurkStream, would mirror the route for the now-abandoned South Stream project and 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.
The Turkish project has moved in fits and starts because of issues related to the Syrian conflict and bilateral trade between Russia and Turkey declined more than 30 percent last year.
The start of the project's construction followed a state visit to Moscow by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who aims to capitalize on his country's geographic position by becoming an energy bridge between Central Asian and Middle East suppliers and the European market.