In “Gazprom” called the date of launch of the pipeline “Turkish stream”. Deputy Chairman of the Board of Gazprom Oleg Aksyutin said that the line will be ready in November this year. And the first gas will go through the pipe on December 31. At the moment, the land and sea parts of the Russian side are 100% ready. With Turkish — 73.5%.
Despite the fact that the first line of the gas pipeline with a capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters will be launched on time, some experts doubt that it will be filled to 100%. The fact is that the parties still cannot agree on such a fundamental issue as the price of gas supplied. In April, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Moscow, where he discussed energy prices with his Russian counterpart. However, the leaders failed to reach a compromise.
“As for energy-they are formed by the market method. These are the prices on the market, they are not appointed by Gazprom in the Directive order. And there are questions, there are problems. Our Turkish friends insist on some formulas, for commercial reasons, Gazprom offers other solutions,” Vladimir Putin said then.
The Russian President also stressed that the advantage of Gazprom is not only in price but also in the reliability of supplies. “Turkey has many contracts in the field of gas supply, not all fulfill their contractual obligations. And Russia is able to serve,” — said Putin. This remark was made not by chance, as Gazprom has many competitors in the Turkish market. Back in 2018, the TRANS-Anatolian gas pipeline TANAP with a capacity of 16 billion cubic meters of gas per year was launched from the Caspian Shah Deniz field through Azerbaijan and Georgia to the borders of Greece and Bulgaria. Turkey also buys “blue fuel” from Iran and purchases liquefied natural gas (LNG) from different suppliers. For example, Qatar and even the United States.
In 2018, Turkish LNG purchases increased by 13.2%. On the contrary, imports of Russian pipeline gas decreased by 17%. Ankara acquired 8.3 million tons of liquefied gas (about 18.6 billion cubic meters), which allowed it to reach second place in Europe in this indicator. At the same time, according to “Gazprom”, the purchase of Russian gas has fallen from 29 to 24 billion cubic meters of gas per year. This is the lowest level since 2012. And, as experts say, this year the trend will continue.
LNG prices in Europe are falling due to falling demand in Asian markets and, accordingly, making it more attractive. And warm winters reduce the need for gas in General. It is not surprising that, given these circumstances, Ankara itself is in no hurry to complete the “Turkish stream” on time. According to some estimates, the construction of the reception terminal on the black sea coast will not be completed until the end of the year. And without it to start gas on a pipe, naturally, it won’t turn out.
With the second line of the “Turkish stream”, which should go to Europe and strengthen the position of Turkey as a gas regional hub, the situation is even more uncertain. So far, the route is at the stage of coordination with European countries. And it is still not clear exactly where the pipe will pass. The priority option is the route Bulgaria-Serbia-Hungary-Slovakia with a further approach to Austria and Italy. However, the EU authorities are not in a hurry to Express their position on the project. This carries certain risks if Brussels decides to begin to put a spoke in the wheel.
Expert analyst of the group of companies “Finam” Alexey Kalachev believes that in the case of “Turkish stream” Ankara takes advantage of the situation in order to bargain for the most favorable conditions. How profitable in this case the gas pipeline will be for Russia is a big question.
— While the gas pipeline is not completed and not started, there is a risk of not the full filling of the pipe. This is a good springboard to bargain for the price that Turkey is actively and successfully doing the entire period of construction of the gas pipeline. At each new stage, Ankara recovers concessions either in the form of loans or in the form of price reduction. I think this will continue. Moreover, the price situation in the European gas market is now in favor of Turkey.
“SP”: — In what sense?
— Prices in the European market have fallen to 140-160 dollars and are at the level of 2014. This was due to the excess supply of LNG, which is transferred from Asia to Europe. This is a temporary phenomenon, but it allows Turkey to bargain. As soon as the demand for LNG in Asian markets grows — gas will go there again.
But liquefied gas, unlike pipeline gas, gives the possibility of flexible supplies. The seller can transfer LNG from region to region if there is excessive demand somewhere or, conversely, demand decreases. The current situation with an excess of LNG allows Turkey to close its needs and buy what is cheaper. But, again, this situation is temporary.
“SP”: — So is there a risk that the “Turkish stream” will be unfilled?
— There are risks. Because of the gas market and, in particular, the LNG market, is actively developing. Russia also actively comes to him in the face of NOVATEK. And Gazprom is beginning to pay more attention to LNG projects. Qatar significantly increases the production of liquefied gas, the US sharply increased production volumes.
The market sometimes will cause a price shock in areas where there are pipes. And further, the more often there will be such situations.
“SP”: — does Turkey Have alternatives to the “Turkish stream”, in addition to LNG?
— Eat. For example, last year I went to the gas via TANAP. Of course, there are slightly different volumes, but this is also an alternative. Turkey has a very good market with different suppliers. And they are actively traded.
“SP”: — If Gazprom will continue to provide discounts to Ankara, will this gas pipeline be profitable at all?
— Yes, this is a serious question that has not yet been answered. As I said, Gazprom is now in a vulnerable position. The pipeline is almost completed. To run a little, but then the buyer starts to Balk at the price.
But it is worth considering that for Gazprom, it is not so much the thread that goes to Turkey as the second branch that should go to southern Europe that is important. There will be gas, which now goes through Ukraine. Gazprom is not a purely commercial structure. It is also a geopolitical tool. Therefore, if the task is to create routes alternative to Ukrainian transit, Gazprom will invest in these projects. Even if they are not as profitable as we would like.
“SP”: — Is there any progress on the European thread? Or can it repeat the fate of the South Stream?
— Progress. We periodically receive news about tenders and tenders for construction and capacity. The movement goes, but not so head-on, as in the case of “South stream”. More subtly, on the part of the consumer.
That is, first the demand is formed, the order for capacity. Then — the order for the construction of pipes. And the gas will go where it is needed. Especially as the volume in comparison with “South stream” is reduced twice. On the sly, all will be fine. The order for volumes is formed within the EU. Therefore, there are no violations of European law here. Director of the energy development Fund Sergey Pikin believes that Turkey will not be able to give up Russian gas yet. But about the second branch is less optimistic.
— “Turkish stream” is not a new consumption of Turkey. This is a reorientation of gas, which is now going through the TRANS-Balkan gas pipeline through Ukraine. The idea is to shift these volumes to the “Turkish stream”. Thus, transit through Ukraine and the TRANS-Balkan gas pipeline will decrease.
As for the price problem, it is still there and is not directly related to the commissioning of the new gas pipeline. Just Ankara uses it as a lever to bargain for additional concessions.
The volume of Turkish LNG terminals does not yet allow to cover the entire need of Turkey for gas so it can not abandon Russian gas. The decline in consumption is due to the overall economic situation in the country. In addition, there is an element of commercial blackmail on the part of Ankara.
“SP”: — And what are the prospects of the second branch of the gas pipeline?
— The European Commission is silent and no position — neither against nor for — does not Express. Some countries on which this thread should pass (for example, Bulgaria) have already begun work. Consultations and tenders are held. That is, the route is defined, and there are no problems with this. But the lack of position of the European Commission can be a problem.
The situation is very similar to the South Stream. If the European authorities want, they can create very serious difficulties for the project. After all, Bulgaria is not Germany, which can defend its interests. Remember how in the past Sofia literally threatened to cancel EU subsidies if they agree to the construction of the “South stream”. So now it remains to wait for the position of Brussels.