Project Poseidon: Europe Starts the Fight for Russian Gas from Turkish Stream

The Company IGI Poseidon is engaged in the development of gas infrastructure projects in South East Europe and is currently promoting the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), the Poseidon pipeline and the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline (EastMed).

The Poseidon gas pipeline project, the offshore part of the ITGI (Interconnector Turkey - Greece - Italy) gas pipeline, was designed to connect the gas transmission systems of Greece and Italy. The length of the "pipe" is about 800 kilometers and capacity about 8-10 billion cubic meters. Initially, it was assumed that the pipeline would ensure the supply of Azerbaijani gas along the route Turkey-Greece-Italy. But in February, Gazprom, Edison and DEPA signed a memorandum of understanding on gas supplies from Russia under the Black Sea to Greece and Italy.

"Recent statements from the Italian company about its interest in gas from the Turkish Stream are rather strange, as the agreements with Turkey imply the laying of a "pipe" to the border with Greece, while Bulgaria and Serbia confidently assert that the continuation of the European pipeline will pass through their territory. These long-term contracts of Gazprom suggest the delivery of large volumes of gas to the Austrian gas hub.

Yet, Russia refused the "South Stream" because Brussels pressed Bulgaria, and the latter refused permission to build a pipeline. In this chain, Bulgaria has remained a weak link: there are no guarantees that history will not repeat itself. The Poseidon project could be an alternative to laying a gas pipeline from Turkey to Europe, generating new problems in negotiations with Sofia.

The Head of IGI Poseidon Elio Ruggieri said at the European autumn gas conference in Milan that the gas pipeline Poseidon can be built by 2023. According to him, the final decision will be made in 2019, when Russia finishes the construction of the pipeline across Turkey to the borders of the EU. However, the deadline stated by Ruggeri does not agree with the interests of Moscow.

"The Italians assume that they will only begin negotiations in 2019, while Russia plans to completely or almost completely abandon transit through Ukraine in 2020, for which the Turkish Stream and the Nord Stream-2 are built," Gazprom stated.

Neither Gazprom nor Europe have determined how the pipeline will pass through the EU. Moscow needs clear guarantees; EU countries are interested in transit revenues from the "pipe" in their sovereign territories. Most likely, the final decision will have to be taken by Brussels: the supranational body of the European Union must decide which geography of gas supplies it is interested in".

The fact that the first thread of the Turkish gas pipeline was included in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Turkey was reported by Gazprom on November 4. In total, 448 kilometers have already been laid along two lines of the gas pipeline. In less than half a year almost 25% of the sea area was built. The beginning of gas transportation on the "Turkish Stream" is scheduled for December 2019.

Now the European Commission is actively trying to prevent the construction of the Nord Stream-2, and it may end in complete failure, with the body trying to extend the new rules to the Russian gas pipelines "retroactively" after filing applications. Therefore, Nord Stream 2, most likely, will no longer face serious obstacles.

But it is likely that this will force the European Commission to shift its focus to the European thread of the "Turkish Stream". It may seem to the outside observer that Gazprom has won with its "menacing" projects. It is now important for the regulator to prove that it is not toothless, but has real power. Therefore, the sticks in the wheels of the gas pipeline from Turkey will now be inserted with tripled perseverance.

Dimitri Dolaberidze

20 November 2017 18:45