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Turkey Is Central to the Russia-Europe Energy Standoff 10 mars 2015

Posted by Acturca in Caucasus / Caucase, Central Asia / Asie Centrale, Energy / Energie, Russia / Russie, South East Europe / Europe du Sud-Est, Turkey / Turquie.
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Stratfor (USA) March 10, 2015

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The crisis in Ukraine, and in particular Russia’s cancellation of the South Stream natural gas pipeline project, has had substantial ripple effects on the energy dynamics on the European continent. The Russians and Europeans have both put forth several potential replacements for the now scrapped pipeline, and Turkey will likely play a pivotal role in any future project.

There are several options for replacing South Stream. One major alternative for Europe that avoids Russia and Ukraine is the Southern Corridor route, which would take energy supplies from countries around the Caspian Sea (particularly Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan but also potentially Iran and Iraq) to Europe via Turkey or the Black Sea. Projects taking this route are attractive for European countries, but political considerations and economic costs have long been major obstacles.

Another such project is the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP). The pipeline would enable natural gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to flow to the borders of the European Union. Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said March 9 that the construction of TANAP, which would go from the Turkish-Georgian border to Turkey’s border with Bulgaria, would begin March 17. Further, he said the pipeline would potentially link up to future projects such as the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline.

Whichever projects move forward, Turkey will play an important role. With its transcontinental location and political and economic heft, Turkey is a country that both the Russians and the Europeans will pursue as a partner in the energy sphere. Turkey benefits from the political attention, will receive a portion of natural gas supplies from these projects, and will be able to collect transit fees. Turkey’s stance will serve as a key indication of which projects will be taken seriously. In the meantime, the evolution of the Russia-West standoff will serve as the broader backdrop to energy dynamics on the Continent.

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