Russia reaches Turkish waters with gas pipeline

The so-called Turkish Stream gas pipeline mirrors the route of a pipeline abandoned because of concerns about Russia's role in the European energy sector.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Nov. 6, 2017 at 6:06 AM
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Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Construction for a pipeline slated to bring Russian gas through Turkish territory moved into official Turkish waters, Russian media reported.

Russian news agency Tass reported construction vessel Pioneering Spring moved into the Turkish exclusive economic zone to lay sections of the so-called Turkish Stream pipeline during the weekend.

"The Pioneering Spirit laid one line to the [exclusive economic zone] border, and then returned to Anapa (Russia) to begin the deep-water laying of the second line," the report read.

Russian energy company Gazprom said construction of a pipeline known variably as TurkStream or Turkish Stream started in May

The pipeline's route would mirror 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.

Turkey, meanwhile, aims to capitalize on its geographic position by becoming an energy bridge between Central Asian and Middle East suppliers and the European market. In September, the Central Bank of Turkey said gross domestic product grew 5.1 percent annually and 2.1 percent during the second quarter. Inflation rose 1.2 percent in August to 11 percent, driven by higher prices for durable goods and a slide in the value of the Turkish currency against the euro. Energy prices in Turkey increased by 2 percent because of gains in the oil market and annual energy inflation was 10.5 percent.

Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said core growth has been higher than 5 percent for more than a decade, even as the country faces internal political and external security pressures. He highlighted trade with its European and Middle East neighbors as a critical component of economic success, adding Istanbul could be turning into a global financial center.

For Russia, the link through Turkey is part of its growing ambition to add diversity to export arteries to the European market. Most of Russia's gas to Europe runs through Soviet-era pipelines in Ukraine, where geopolitical issues add a layer of risk.

Gas could flow through the pipeline by late 2019.

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