Russia is likely to maintain some gas transit through Ukraine even if Turkish Stream and Nord Stream 2 pipelines are built, energy expert Peter Poptchev told New Europe.
“Russia would not mind transiting ‘some’ gas through Ukraine – after it would have realised – if at all – Turkish Stream and Nord Stream 2,” said Poptchev, who served as ambassador-at-large for energy security at the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs when the Balkan country negotiated the now-cancelled South Stream pipeline with Gazprom.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Gazprom are pushing instead its Turkish Stream pipeline, envisioning the construction of two underwater legs of the gas pipeline in the Black Sea. The annual capacity of each leg is estimated to reach 15.75 billion cubic metres of natural gas. Pipe-laying work for the Turkish Stream is expected to begin in 2017 and end in late 2019. Turkish Stream is expected to deliver gas from Russia to Turkey and continue to a hub on the Turkish-Greek border, from where the gas could be transferred across Greece to Italy.
Poptchev said that the first reason Russia would keep transiting gas through Ukraine is to keep, and if possible, increase, Gazprom’s market share in Europe.
The second reason is to utilise the Trans-Balkan Pipeline (TBP) in order to limit or prevent shipment of Southern Corridor gas or liquefied natural gas (LNG), or East Mediterranean gas north through Greece and Bulgaria through TBP.
The third reason is for Moscow to keep influence on Kiev, just in case, he said. “For once, Mr. Putin is honest about shipments based on market demand, just because he believes that slowly but surely he had succeeded to build the bases for both Turkish Stream and Nord Stream 2,” Poptchev said.