TurkStream 1 & 2 to Start this Year: Ankara
Both strings of the overland section of the TurkStream pipeline will be completed this year, "God willing," Turkish energy minister Fatih Donmez said during a visit to the pipeline construction site November 16. But it is not yet known when the export line will start carrying gas.
Donmez confirmed that as previously announced, the 15.75bn m³/yr capacity first string which connects to Turkey's own gas transmission grid at Luleburgaz will be completed by the end of the year but he also confirmed that "barring any mishaps" the second 15.75bn m³/yr export string to the Turkey-Bulgaria border will also be completed in December.
Previously officials had commented only that the second string, which crosses the border at Malkoclar and where it will connect with the Bulgarian section of the existing Transbalkan gas transit line, would be completed at an unspecified time in 2020.
The second string is designed to replace the existing Russian gas export line through Ukraine, for which the transit agreement between Moscow and Kiev expires on December 31.
Trilateral talks between Russia. Ukraine and the EU on extending the deadline have yet to produce an agreement.
The connection with Transbalkan is expected to be a temporary measure pending the completion of the 474-km Bulgarian section of TurkStream, for which Bulgaria’s state gas system operator Bulgartransgaz in September signed construction contracts with Saudi-led group Arkad and a German-Bulgarian consortium.
The first string of TurkStream is expected to start supplying up to 14bn m³/yr of gas to Turkey at the start of 2020 in place of the 14bn m³/yr currently supplied via the Transbalkan pipeline through Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria.
Turkish officials have not yet announced what they plan to with the extra 1.75bn m³/yr of capacity in the line, although previously it had been suggested that Turkey's state gas importer Botas would use the capacity for extra imports.
Flow through Transbalkan has been well below capacity since early 2018.
The six Turkish companies which hold contracts for 10bn m³/yr of the contracted 14bn m³/yr have been facing problems competing with cheap LNG imports by Turkey's state gas importer Botas, in a domestic Turkish market where demand from gas-fired power plants has fallen owing to excess generating capacity.
In September Turkey passed legislation allowing for the short term import of gas by licensed state or private entities through any of the country's import pipelines on a spot basis. Currently 47 companies hold spot import licences, of which five have been issued since the new legislation came into effect.