By Georgi Gotev
(EurActiv) — The second leg of the Turkish Stream pipeline will go through Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday (26 July).
The Gazprom-sponsored pipeline Turkish Stream, also called TurkStream, will pump 31.5 billion cubic metres per year (bcm/y) of Russian gas to Europe under the Black Sea, helping Moscow limit the gas transit through Ukraine. Its entry point is on the European territory of Turkey, not far from Bulgaria and Greece.
What was less clear is which way the Russian gas will take further. Part of it, brought by the first leg of the pipeline, will be used on Turkish territory, mainly for the city of Istanbul. The direct supply replaces the current transit via Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria.
Novak said the first leg of the gas pipeline was expected to start operating on 1 January 2020, which was already announced by Gazprom. The real news is Russia’s choice for the route of the second leg via Bulgaria, and not Greece.
This obviously means that the existing pipeline between Bulgaria and Turkey will be reversed, and that gas will start flowing in the opposite direction.
The Bulgarian authorities have been silent over the issue and made no comments by the time of the publication of this article.
Novak made the statement in Turkey’s coastal city of Antalia, in the fringes of a conference of the Russia-Turkey intergovernmental economic committee.
Bulgaria needs less than 4 bcm/y of gas, therefore more than 10 bcm/y will be available for other countries. The Russian agency TASS writes that supplies for Bulgaria and Serbia via Turkish Stream are expected for the beginning of 2020, for Hungary in 2021 and for Slovakia for the first half of 2022.
Bulgaria was considered as the entry point for Russian gas under the Black Sea under the defunct South Stream project. Russia put an end to it after the then Commissioner José Manuel Barroso warned Bulgaria of sanctions, as in his words the project contravened to EU rules.
EURACTIV has seen the confidential Russia-Bulgaria integovernmental agreement on South Stream, which indeed contains arrangements about who should receive the money under the project, which are in total contradiction with EU public procurement rules.