Energy-poor Turkey stands to benefit from Moscow’s surprise decision to drop the $45-billion South Stream natural gas pipeline project, analysts say. At the same time, it raises questions about whether Turkey will become a pawn in the broader energy contest between Russia and the EU.
Ankara has long been keen to wean itself off Russian energy, which currently accounts for an estimated 57 percent of its gas needs, according to the 2014 BP Statistical Review of World Energy. Both the Turkish government and the European Union had seen gas imports from Azerbaijan, a cultural cousin and close ally of Ankara’s, via the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) as the answer to decreasing their level of energy dependency on the Kremlin.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin has other ideas. During a visit to Turkey on December 1, he described Turkey as a “strategic partner” and proposed a new, 63-billion-cubic-meter-per-year gas pipeline running under the Black Sea from Russia via Turkey to the Greek border, which would serve as a forwarding point to Europe.
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Dorian Jones is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.