Botas Files TurkStream EIA paperwork
Turkey's state gas importer and gas transmission operator Botas has filed the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for the first overland section of Gazprom's 31.5bn m³/yr TurkStream gas pipeline with the environment ministry.
Submitted over the Christmas period, the EIA covers the laying of one 15.75bn m³/yr, 48-in pipe, running 69 km from the landfall site at Kiyikoy on Turkey's European Black Sea coast to Misinli, where it will connect to Botas' west-east transit line.
The line, development of which rests with Botas, will deliver 15.75bn m³/yr of gas to Turkish importers in place of 14bn m³/yr now supplied through the Transbalkan gas line through Ukraine. Gazprom plans to cut flows through Ukraine, as Nord Stream 2 is also officially due to start around the end of 2019.
Currently 10bn m³/yr is imported by seven private companies under contracts of various length, with the remaining 4bn m³/yr imported by Botas under a single contract which expires at the end of 2021. The extra 1.75bn m³/yr that TurkStream will provide is expected to be imported by Botas, but the terms of any agreement for the sale have yet to be made public.
The filing of the EIA is good news for the TurkStream development company South Stream Transport, which is on schedule to complete the laying the first string and constructing land fall facilities by the end of 2019 as specified in the inter-governmental agreement between Turkey and Russia for development of the line.
And it is also good news for Gazprom whose transit agreement with Ukraine times out at the end of 2019, meaning that it would need to negotiate an extension if TurkStream is not completed on time and it is obliged to continue supplying Turkey with gas via Transbalkan.
The Turkish cabinet last month approved the compulsory expropriation of land for the laying of the Kiyikoy-Misinli line, while Botas' position as a state company should ensure that the EIA approval process is straightforward allowing construction to start this year.
However as with all bilateral issues between Turkey and Russia, actual realisation depends heavily on the broader state of relations between the two countries, and more specifically between the two countries' presidents: Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin.
Nominally relations have been good since Putin was swift to offer his support to Erdogan in the wake of the failed Turkish coup in July 2016.
TurkStream is reported to be currently top of the list of bilateral issues under discussion, but differences remain. Development of Turkey's first nuclear power plant by Russian state company Rosatom remains on hold and Erdogan has been openly critical of Russia's support for the Assad regime in Syria.
Most significant though has been Turkey's recent change in energy policy, promoting the development of domestic coal fired and renewable energy power plant in an effort to reduce dependence on imported gas for power generation. A move which, given Turkey's multiple potential sources for gas supply, suggests a genuine fear of potential future supply disruption.