World Bulletin/News Desk
Turkey has emerged as an alternative destination to Bulgaria and Italy for Russia's new natural gas South Stream pipeline project, industry and international experts have said.
The country was brought into the spotlight after Russian President Vladimir Putin recently declared Moscow would choose a country not belonging to the European Union for the project, following the EU's hostile reactions following the annexation of Crimea by Russia.
Dr. Richard Connolly, from Birmingham University's Center for Russian and East European Studies, said on Tuesday that Turkey could well overtake Italy as Gazprom's second-largest customer in Europe.
Diverting the pipeline to Turkey would also increase pressure on Italy who, in turn, could be expected to lobby its EU partners for better relations with Russia, he said.
The South Stream project, which is expected to be operational by 2018, was designed to ship Russia's natural gas to Europe through Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Austria.
However, Brussels has halted the project on the grounds that it would have increased reliance on Russian gas among south-eastern EU countries.
Sergey Glebov, a professor of international relations from Center for International Studies at the Odessa Mechnikov National University in Ukraine, said: "The main question: who will consume, buy this Russian gas in the EU, if the EU is calling for independence from Russian gas?"
Natural gas currently flows from Russia into Turkey via the Blue Stream gas pipeline under the Black Sea.
"It looks like Turkey and Russia may expand capacity of the Blue Stream, or build a parallel pipeline to the seaside of Turkey, excluding the previous plan via Bulgaria," Glebov said.
The EU, the world’s biggest energy consumer, spends nearly $800 billion on energy imports every year.
Russia exports natural gas, oil and coal to Europe, supplying 22 percent of its energy alone, according to an Anadolu Agency analysis of data provided by the International Energy Agency, a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization.
Turkey imported around 27 billion cubic meters gas from Russia in 2013.
Russia earns $400 billion yearly from energy exports and one fifth of its income is from exporting energy to Europe.Last Mod: 27 Mayıs 2014, 17:55