RUSSIA: NEW PIPELINE
Turkey's energy minister and Russia's Gazprom chief took a helicopter ride over the Black Sea to survey a possible route of the "Turkish Stream" pipeline Saturday.
Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz and Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee Alexey Miller took off from Istanbul and flew along the Black Sea coast till Ipsala, the Turkish-Greek border to evaluate the possible entry points of the proposed pipeline.
The flight lasted four hours. The two officials made it back to Istanbul by using a route over the Marmara Sea coastline.
Yıldız said that a research committee would file a report about the first assessments of the pipeline soon, possibly by next Tuesday. The committee would consist of Gazprom members and Turkey's Petroleum Pipeline Corporation, BOTAS.
"With the four hour aerial tour, we had an opportunity to see how we can start such a project in Thrace and explore the pipeline route," he said. "We passed over some places two to three times as we tried to assess how we can work with environmental concerns on some agricultural areas, forests and wet lands," he added.
Also, Yıldız said that the negotiation process for the pipeline involved discussions over natural gas price from Russia for Turkey. "Turkey is sensitive about natural gas price negotiations as much as it is about the realization of the Turkish Stream pipeline," he said.
In December, Russia scrapped the South Stream project that planned to carry gas under the western Black Sea to Bulgaria and further into European markets.
Russian President Vladimir Putin offered a new gas pipeline route via the Black Sea to reach Turkey's northwestern Thrace region, dubbed the Turkish Stream, which would also involve a gas hub at the Turkish-Greek border to transfer gas further into Europe.
Yıldız added that they also held a third meeting with the Gazprom committee over the gas price. "We are expecting to reach an agreement by next week," he revealed.
About remarks of Maros Sefkovic, vice president of European Commission's Energy Union, that the Turkish Stream may create legal and economic problems, Yildiz said that there were always threats and opportunities when big projects were involved.
"We have those experiences from the Trans Anatolian Pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline and Kirkuk-Yumurtalik Pipeline. These issues are multilateral so it is normal to face some problems," he said.
"The important thing is if you have the will to overcome those problems. Turkey's political will and stability is strong enough to solve those problems," he added.
Miller told in an exclusive interview that the possible entry point of the pipeline on Turkish land could be Kiyikoy, a small village in northwestern Turkey on the Black Sea coast.
He said that the pipeline would go through Luleburgaz and end up at Ipsala, a town at the Turkish-Greek border.
Miller said that the first phase of the project would provide around 16 billion cubic meters of natural gas for Turkey's own consumption. In the next step, the pipeline would bring 47 billion cubic meters of gas to Turkish-Greek border, he said.
He also said that the first flow of gas would start in December 2016, but did not give an exact date for the official agreement of the Turkish Stream. He also said that they don't expect to face any problems in terms of EU regulations.
"We took important steps over the price discussion on natural gas that Gazprom wants to sell to Turkey and we hope that we will come up with a solution in the near future," he added.
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