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. Continue reading

Gazprom Hopes to Build Second Baltic Sea Pipeline

With the planned Nabucco natural gas pipeline in southern Europe hitting snag after snag, Russian natural gas giant Gazprom is considering the construction of a second Baltic Sea pipeline to go with the just-finished Nord Stream. With unconventional natural gas from the US flooding the market, however, the strategy is not without risk.

Seven years later, it is now clear who won the duel. When the government of Social Democratic Chancellor Gerhard Schröder came to an end in 2005, both he and his foreign minister, Green Party éminence grise Joschka Fischer, embarked on second careers as energy lobbyists.

Schröder is in the service of Russian energy giant Gazprom — as chairman of the board of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline on the Baltic Sea floor. The pipeline went into operation six months ago and now natural gas from Siberia flows through the 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) of pipe to the German city of Greifswald.

The construction of the second Baltic pipeline would be a triumph for Russian President Vladimir Putin. At the same time, though, the strategy being pursued is nothing short of audacious. Indeed, Gazprom is seeking to expand its infrastructure at a time when the natural gas business is undergoing radical change worldwide. The market for the fuel is losing what has long been its most salient feature: scarcity.

Full article: Gazprom Hopes to Build Second Baltic Sea Pipeline (Spiegel Online)

Post-Nabucco Era in Caspian Pipeline Business and Politics

Azerbaijan holds the main cards as gas producer country, with cash reserves to build a pipeline that Europe seems unable to finance, and coherent planning that eludes Europeans outside the European Commission. Thanks to Azerbaijan, moreover, Turkey can finally advance toward its goal of becoming a transit county for Caspian and Mideastern gas to Europe. Other transit projects, on which Turkey had based that hope, never came close to implementation via Turkey (Russian Blue Stream Two, Iranian gas, Nabucco, Arab Gas Pipeline from Syria) while gas projects in northern Iraq or offshore Cyprus look unrealistic for the foreseeable future. Thus far, it is mainly Azerbaijan that has enabled Turkey to become a transit country for oil (Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline) and is now poised to make Turkey into a major transit country for gas. Ankara could jeopardize that prospect, however, in case it reverts to its former ambitions to become a “hub” country, rather than a transit country.

Caspian gas politics and the investment decisions are clearly moving into a post-Nabucco era. Among the five rival solutions (TAGP, SEEP, Nabucco, ITGI, TAP), the Azerbaijan-led TAGP holds an unmatched combination of comparative advantages (see “Trans-Anatolia Gas Project and its rivals in Comparative Perspective,” EDM, February 2).  Baku’s decision to proceed with TAGP in partnership with Turkey has cut the decade-old Gordian knot of Caspian pipeline projects.

Full article: Post-Nabucco Era in Caspian Pipeline Business and Politics (The Jamestown Foundation)