Russia’s Federation Council to rubberstamp Turkish Stream

A project spearheaded by Russian gas monopoly Gazprom to supply with gas the lucrative Turkish market and possibly Europe could be rubberstamped by Russia’s Federation Council at the beginning of next month. The upper chamber of the Russian parliament may consider the law on ratification of the agreement between Russia and Turkey on construction of the Turkish Stream at a plenary session around February 1, RIA Novosti quoted, Vladimir Dzhabarov, the first deputy chairman of the Federation Council Committee for International Affairs, as saying on January 20. The State Duma ratified the agreement earlier in the day. “Within two weeks after the State Duma [lower house], we have to consider the document, I think it will be submitted to the plenary meeting on February 1,” Dzhabarov said, adding that he is confident that the lawmakers would support the agreement as it was beneficial for Russia. “They will be rubberstamping basically everything that has been agreed upon so I would look at it with too much attention,” Slava Smolyaninov, chief strategist at BCS, a brokerage firm, told New Europe by phone on January 20. He noted that Russia’s Federation Council and the Duma follow the policies of President Vladimir Putin and the government. The expert reminded that chilled relations between Moscow and Ankara have thawed recently. Smolyaninov said that at this point the Russian government has decided that better relations with Ankara and moving forward with Turkish Stream serve Moscow’s interests “but whether it will happen or not is hard to say”.

The European Commission has stressed that the extension of Turkish Stream to Europe has to abide by EU law. It has also been skeptical about the project since it would increase the bloc’s reliance on Russia. 

Konstantin Simonov, the general director of Russia’s National Energy Security Fund, wrote in an article for New Europe that Turkish Stream is “aimed at minimisation of Ukrainian transit risks for Russia”. Russia and Turkey signed an intergovernmental agreement in October 2016 envisioning the construction of a gas pipeline across the Black Sea to the European part of Turkey, and farther to the border with Greece. The length of the underwater section of the pipeline should be around 910 kilometres, the land part across the Turkish territory – 180 kilometres. The total project cost is estimated at €11.4 billion. It is assumed that the supply of gas through the first line will be entirely aimed to meet the growing demand of Turkish market. Pipe-laying work for the Turkish Stream is expected to begin in 2017 and end in late 2019. Moreover, Simonov reminded that Gazprom’s subsidiary South Stream BV signed a contract with Allseas on laying the first line of the gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey through the Black Sea in the first half of 2017 and an option to build the second line.

Putin and Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller announced Turkish Stream in December 2014 as a replacement for the South Stream gas pipeline, citing problems the latter faced with the European Commission. However, talks on the project were soon suspended over a chill in Russia-Turkey bilateral relations, following the downing of a Russian fighter jet over the border with Syria. On August 9, 2016, Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in St Petersburg where they decided to resume work on Turkish Stream and to set up a working group and road map.

By Kostis Geropoulos

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