Does Turkey Prefer A European Or Eurasian Energy Union?

December 2014 saw the reemergence of competition between rival pipeline projects in Eurasia—similar to the earlier competition between the Nabucco natural gas pipeline, proposed by a consortium of European companies, and Russia’s South Stream. Currently, Russia’s new proposed pipeline project—Turkish Stream—is challenging the Azerbaijani-initiated Southern Gas Corridor, which will carry Caspian-basin gas to Europe via the South Caucasus, Turkey and then across Southeastern Europe.

Turkey is already signed on to the Southern Gas Corridor—the Corridor’s longest pipeline segment, the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), will cross Turkey from east to west—but it is also being strongly courted by Moscow to host Turkish Stream (see EDM, December 17, 2014; February 20, 2015). This growing significance of Turkey in competing large-scale energy transit projects across Europe and Eurasia has also opened up a discussion domestically regarding which prospective energy union the country should become part of—European or Eurasian.

In particular, the Turkish media has been discussing the idea of an Energy Union for Eurasia since the beginning of the year. Gurkan Kumbaroglu, the Istanbul-based president-elect of the International Association for Energy Economics (IAEE), said that his organization aims to create an energy union that will include 18 countries and be under the supervision of Turkey, Russia and Azerbaijan. According to the IAEE, the formation of this regional entity was agreed at a meeting that included Kumbaroglu as well as representatives from the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) (Yeni Safak, January 27).

Considering the partially overlapping memberships of the two structures, especially in the Balkans, it remains to be seen how viable it will be for either energy union to exist simultaneously; or if, in fact, there can be some way to integrate both projects in the future. Moreover, Russia’s attempts to build an ever closer relationship with Turkey—and the latter’s openness to such gestures—will complicate regional energy geopolitics further.

Thus, Brussels and Ankara are likely to disagree on strategically important energy security issues over the coming years unless Turkey and the EU can achieve tighter cooperation under the framework of the European Energy Union. But if Turkey instead starts to pursue a more independent policy, particularly one at odds with the European Union, the Eurasian region will experience ever more unstable and competitive energy geopolitics.

Full article: Does Turkey Prefer A European Or Eurasian Energy Union? (Oil Price)

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