Date: 19 April 2020
In the Balkans, TurkStream Pipeline Sees Further Delays
TurkStream, a brand-new gas pipeline running from Russia to Turkey, has been in operation since January, yet only partially. There is one string carrying Russian natural gas to Turkey. Yet its sister line is vital here as gas is projected to flow through it to the Balkans and then Hungary via Turkey. Nonetheless, the project has not yet seen the light of day amid some hurdles at its Bulgarian portion, seen as most crucial one.
On April 16, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said his country is likely to see some delays in the implementation of the TurkStream pipeline amidst the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Nonetheless, some of the workers that construct the gas pipeline are foreigners who are put under a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Bulgaria’s state-owned gas provider, Bulgartransgaz, awarded a €1.1-billion contract to Saudi-led group Arkad to construct an extension to the TurkStream gas pipeline. Back in February 2020, Arkad signed a deal with Russian-based IDC to build the Serbian section of the energy line. Under the agreement, IDC will construct a 100-kilometer link in western Bulgaria and connect it to the Serbian part of the route. To make matters worse, some of the company’s workers developed the Serbian portion of the energy link, and they went under a 14-day quarantine.
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TurkStream, or the second gas pipeline under the Black Sea after Blue Stream, became operational in January 2020. The offshore part of the two-string link is 900 kilometers, each with an annual capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters (bcm). The first line will bring Russian gas to the Turkish market, while the second is planned to deliver gas to the Balkans and further to Hungary. Bulgaria had promised to complete its stretch of the TurkStream gas pipeline by January 1, 2020, as planned, but it saw some hurdles while selecting an investor. Earlier, Vladimir Putin rebuked Bulgaria’s government for holding up the project. Before Russia had presumed gas would begin flowing through the Balkan Stream gas pipeline, as Bulgaria names it, from the Turkish border to Serbia in May this year. However, all signs are that the date will move. The CEO of Bulgartransgaz Vladimir Malinov said that 240 kilometers of pipelines have already been laid, while the route for a further 230 kilometers is now ready. In recent months Bulgaria has ramped up efforts to diversify gas suppliers, possibly irking Moscow. Sofia said it would book some liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the terminal now being built in Greece. In turn, with the IGB gas interconnector from Greece to Bulgaria, the latter country will be able to import Caspian gas flows from Azerbaijan within the Southern Gas Corridor.
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