Gazprom’s Turkish pipeline talks expected to resume next week

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller

A meeting between the head of Russia’s Gazprom’s and Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz is expected to be rescheduled for next week as both sides strive to finalise agreement on a proposed underwater gas pipeline to Turkey, a senior energy ministry official said on Wednesday.

Turkey was named as Russia’s preferred partner for an alternative to its planned South Stream pipeline to carry gas to southern Europe without crossing Ukraine after Russia aborted the project in December, citing EU objections.

Gazprom now hopes to create a gas hub at the Turkish-Greek border for transit to Europe, but has yet to gain Turkey’s agreement to build on its territory and also faces resistance from EU countries that want energy independence from Russia.

The Russian company announced the cancellation of Wednesday’s meeting in St. Petersburg without giving a reason, but the Turkish energy ministry official said it had merely been postponed because Gazprom executives, including CEO Alexei Miller, were out of the country. Miller had begun talks with the ministry in May.

The ministry official said the postponed meeting is now expected to take place next week, with Turkey and Gazprom both aiming to finalise an agreement by the end of June.

Turkey is dependent on Russia for natural gas. Last year it bought 27.4 billion cubic metres of gas through the Blue Stream and Transbalkan pipeline, accounting for more than half of its gas imports.