Turkish Stream: Ankara blames Kremlin for gas pipeline delays

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said there were delays in planning on the Russian side in developments of the planned Turkish Stream gas pipeline. Yildiz told the state-backed Anadolu News Agency that Russian planners delayed delivering route coordinates for the pipeline through his country. « Turkey could not begin any construction without these coordinates, » he said. Russian energy company Gazprom said in February it surveyed the Turkish land route for the 110-mile section of pipeline from the Black Sea. The Kremlin said the Turkish gas project will help ensure European energy security. South Stream, a longer version of the pipeline, was envisioned as a European network before the Russian government pulled it off the table in late 2014. Russia meets about a quarter of the natural gas needs for the European economy. The majority of that runs through the Soviet-era transit network in Ukraine, where lingering debt issues and ongoing conflict present risks to traditional energy routes. Russian energy officials last week denied allegations the Turkish Stream project was on hold. Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to meet his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, later this year and a Kremlin spokesman said the pipeline « will definitely be on the agenda. » Turkey is the second-largest consumer of Russian natural gas. Yildiz said political, economic and construction issues are clouding the pipeline’s developments. For Europe, which expressed opposition to the South Stream project, the minister said Brussels should focus its priorities. « As an EU member, if you demand natural gas on the one hand and refuse the project on the other, it would create a contradiction, which Europe needs to overcome, » he said.