Turkey important for European gas market

This article earlier appeared on the Dutch version of Geotrendlines and was originally written by Frank Knopers on 22 October 2016.

In the future, Turkey will play an important role in the European energy supply. The construction of various new pipelines will create a southern transport route to bring natural gas from Russia and Azerbaijan to the European market.

The construction of a southern transport route will make the energy supply to Europe less dependent on existing routes through potential ‘risk areas’ such as Ukraine and the Baltic States. In this article we summarize the latest developments and briefly describe the pipelines that are all planned.

Turkish Stream

On 10 October, Putin and Erdogan signed an agreement on the construction of the Turkish Stream. This new transport route consists of two gas pipelines, both with a capacity of 15.75 billion m³ of gas per year.

The first pipeline will supply natural gas directly to Turkey, while the second is intended for the transport of natural gas to the European market. The pipeline through the Black Sea will be constructed by Gazprom and will be ready by the end of 2019. The Turkish Stream will start with two pipelines, but in the future the capacity can be increasing by doubling the number to pipelines.

“We are witnessing the signing of an agreement between two countries for the construction of the Turkish Stream. As part of this project and our further cooperation we have agreed on a discount on natural gas for Turkey. This will bring us closer to realising the Turkish President’s plan to build a major energy hub in Turkey,” said Putin.

The construction of the Turkish Stream is therefore not only intended to export more natural gas to Turkey, but also to have an extra transport route to serve the European gas market. Economist Mark Thornton of the Ludwig von Mises Instute explained to Russia Today:

“Europe has always been dependent on Russia for its energy supply, especially for oil. But in recent years, dependence on natural gas has also increased. Russia is one of the few countries that can export energy in the long term. Of course, in recent decades there has also been a supply of energy from the United Kingdom and Norway. But dependence on Russian energy goes back a century.”

Turkish President Erdogan said that Turkey should become an important transit hub for Europe and that he wants to work with Russia to achieve that goal. At the World Energy Congress in Istanbul he said:

“Turkey wants to become a transport route for Europe and has the intention to create, together with Russia, a supply route for energy transport to Europe. We look positively at the Turkish Stream, which will be developed by Russia. This pipeline will allow the gas to flow directly through the Black Sea to the Balkans.”

Turkish Stream supplies gas to Turkey and Europe (Source: Gazprom)

South Stream (canceled in 2014)

The construction of a southern transport route to Europe did not go without a hitch. The Turkish Stream only came on the agenda when it became clear that Bulgaria did not want to cooperate in the construction of the South Stream.

The South Stream was an initiative of Russia and Italy that was announced in 2007. The project was halted in December 2014 due to European objections and Western sanctions imposed following developments in Crimea. Shortly afterwards, Turkey and Greece came into the picture for the construction of an alternative route.

In 2014, the South Stream project was cancelled (Source: Gazprom)

Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP)

On 30 September, the construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), an 878 kilometer long pipeline through Greece and Albania, was officially launched. This pipeline, which will be connected to Turkey’s network, will enable natural gas from Russia and Azerbaijan to be further distributed to various southern European countries such as Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia.

At the other end, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline will cross the Adriatic Sea towards the Italian mainland. In the long term, this will enable Italy to achieve what was not possible with the South Stream, namely a new transport route to secure the supply of gas. This new pipeline has a capacity of 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year, enough to supply 7 million households. The project should be completed by 2020. More information about this project can be found here.

Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) brings natural gas to Europe (Source: TAP-AG)

Italy wants to secure its energy supply for the future and sees Russia as an important trading partner in this. At the beginning of this month, several Italian energy companies announced their intention to participate in both the Nord Stream 2 and in projects connected to the Turkish Stream. Arkady Dvorkovich, deputy vice-premier of Russia to the TASS press agency said:

“Italian partners have shown interest. It is no secret that Saipem [part of the Italian energy company Eni] participates in the relevant procedures Gazprom is implementing regarding Nord Stream and Turkish Stream.”

Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP)

With the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), Turkey is building a southern transport route from the Caspian Sea to the Turkish border with Greece. This 1,841 kilometer long gas pipeline starts in Azerbaijan and crosses Georgia and Turkey towards Greece.

This project was announced in 2011 and the actual construction started in 2015. The pipeline is expected to be operational from 2018 and to start exporting gas to Europe from 2020. The TANAP will initially have a capacity of 16 billion cubic meters of gas per year, but this can later be scaled up to a maximum of 60 billion cubic meters with stronger turbines.

TANAP will be connected to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline described above, allowing Azerbaijan’s natural gas to reach the European market. This will enable Turkey to realize its plans for a Southern gas corridor to Europe and strengthen its strategic position between Europe and Asia.

TANAP brings natural gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey and Europe (Source: Wikipedia)


If everything goes according to plan, in five years’ time there will be three new pipelines that will give Turkey a stronger position in terms of Europe’s energy supply. Greece will also become an important link in the distribution of natural gas for Europe.

Russia will have an extra transport route to bring its natural gas to the Turkish and European markets and southern European countries will become less dependent on the existing transport routes through Ukraine and the Baltic States.

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