Russia scraps Europe pipeline, talks Turkey

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Russia’s proposed South Stream pipeline–which would connect Russia to southern Europe without crossing Ukraine–was scrapped Monday in the wake of EU objections to the project. Instead, Russia is naming Turkey as its preferred piped gas partner.

Russia has been for several years in the planning stage for an undersea pipeline to that would feed 63 billion cubic meters into Turkey annually. The pipeline would run under the Black Sea at a depth of up to 1.5 miles.

The Blue Stream pipeline which already connects the two nations opened officially in 2005. Even in 2005, Russian President Vladimir Putin had stated that there was an opportunity to expand the pipeline to pump gas across Turkey into southern Italy, the south of Europe an Israel. Turkey also viewed Blue Stream as a step towards becoming a player in world energy markets.

Russia scraps Europe pipeline, talks TurkeyCiting EU objections to South Stream, which would have brought gas into the EU via Bulgaria, Russia’s chief executive of Gazprom, Alexei Miller, told reporters in Ankara that South Stream was “closed.” “That’s it,” said the official.

Putin publicly stated that Russia would grant Turkey a six percent discount on imported gas next year. Turkey is seeking a 15 percent discount for Russian gas, however.

“As our cooperation develops and deepens, I think we will be ready for further price reductions,” Miller told reporters in Ankara. “As we develop our joint projects… the level of gas price for Turkey could reach the one Germany has today.”

Putin also accused the EU of denying Bulgaria its sovereign rights by blocking the South Stream project. Putin counselled that the EU objections were “against Europe’s economic interests” and were “causing damage”

Currently, Russia supplies around 30 percent of Europe’s gas needs via pipelines through Ukraine. Many nations–including Hungary, Austria and Bulgaria–have expressed concern that the South Stream pipeline would be risky, citing Russia’s gas disruptions and threatened disruptions via Ukraine pipelines after Russia invaded Ukraine early this year.

By James Haleavy