Putin, Erdogan Launch TurkStream Pipeline

The long-anticipated TurkStream offshore pipeline, that will deliver Russian gas to Turkey and further to southern European states, was launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a ceremony Wednesday, Izvestia reported.

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissovalso participated in the event, as the leaders symbolically launched the project from the stage. The 930 km pipeline across the bottom of the Black Sea became operational immediately, said Russian gas giant Gazprom, who lead the massive project.

“The supply of Russian gas through TurkStream will undoubtedly be of great importance not only for the economy of Turkey and the Black Sea region, but will also have a positive impact on the development of many South European countries, and will contribute to improving the energy security of Europe in general,” Putin said. He also thanked his Turkish counterpart for the “political will” that was necessary to implement such a massive initiative.

As Russia remains the main gas supplier for Turkey, the countries will implement new joint energy projects, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Wednesday. Russia is also involved in another massive energy project in Turkey, Akkuyu nuclear power plant (NPP), which is set to become operational later this year.

Russia has already started European gas deliveries through the pipeline, Bulgarian gas operator Bulgartransgaz said on January 5. The pipeline terminal is near the Turkish village of Kiyikoy, some 20 kilometers from the Bulgarian border.

It’s part of Russia’s long-term goal of reducing or ending gas transit through Ukraine with alternate pipeline projects, such as Nord Stream 1 and 2.

Both connect to Germany underwater but the near-completion of Nord Stream 2 has been delayed due to U.S. sanctions.

Russia, which exported nearly 200 bcm to Europe last year, has been supplying gas to the Balkans and Turkey overland though Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania.

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