Turkey Aims to be Gas Transit Hub From Azerbaijan and Russia to Europe

88793b6b92b102729db6f4fcc5916cf53c15fb5bTurkey has staked a claim to become a major transit hub with two new pipelines to pump gas from Azerbaijan and Russia to Europe, but boasting may prove easier than fulfilling the ambitious projects.

Turkey and Azerbaijan last week started work on the new 1,850 kilometre (1,150 mile) overland Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) which by 2018 aims to provide 10 billion cubic metres of gas per year (bcma) to European consumers and 6 bcma to Turkish customers.

At the same time Turkish and Russian officials are in intense negotiations to agree terms for a brand new Turkish Stream pipeline under the Black Sea.

With the EU backing TANAP and Russia behind Turkish Stream, Turkey is now placed in a hugely strategic position in the intensifying rivalry between Brussels and Moscow over gas supply.

Turkey’s dream is to turn the region on the western side of the country bordering Greece and Bulgaria into a gas hub, where multiple pipelines will meet to pump gas to EU consumers.

The EU-backed TANAP appears sure to be built, as finding returns on the $40-$45 billion investment in Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz 2 gas field depends on the pipeline.

Still the plan to build Turkish Stream is a sign of the strengthening relations between Russia and Turkey. The two have managed to prevent disputes over the Syria and Ukraine conflicts from damaging their emerging alliance.

While TANAP could be seen as a competing project to Turkish Stream, Erdogan with conspicuous timing telephoned Putin on the evening of the TANAP ceremony to discuss the Russian-Turkish pipeline plan, the Kremlin said.