TurkStream pipeline nears completion, Russia and Turkey look to further cooperation

The first arm of a dual pipeline under construction to bring Russian gas to Turkey and on to Europe will be complete in January 2020, Turkish secularist daily Cumhuriyet quoted Russian energy minister Aleksandr Novak as saying on Friday.

With an annual capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters, the TurkStream will deliver half of its gas payload from Russia to Turkey’s western Thrace region, while the rest will continue on to southern Europe.

The pipeline will pass through Bulgaria, Hungary and then Serbia before continuing to other European countries, the minister said at a meeting in Antalya with Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan.

Analysts invited by the project’s partner, Russian gas giant GazProm, to inspect construction of the pipeline in Turkey in June said work on the receiving terminal was 86 percent complete.

Turkey’s relations with Russia have grown far closer over the past three years, during which Ankara defied its Western allies by buying Russian missile defence systems.

Novak said the two countries had set an ambitious target of quadrupling bilateral trade volume to $100 billion in coming years, Russian news agency TASS reported.

The two countries will also seek to increase the share of national currencies in the mutual trade past the current level of 34 percent, said Novak.

This could involve Russian-Turkish cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey is in dispute with the European Union over drilling rights around the island of Cyprus. The EU imposed measures earlier this month for what it calls Turkey’s illegal drilling for gas.

“Russian companies have taken part in successful energy projects in the Mediterranean. For example, Rosneft is involved in developing the Zohr gas field”, Novak said, referring to an eastern Mediterranean gas field in Egyptian waters. 

If there are projects that are beneficial to all sides, Russian companies could take the decision to work with Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean”, Turkish pro-government daily Sabah quoted the minister as saying.