Talks on Turkey-Russia gas pipeline frozen

GMT 19:06 2015 Friday ,11 September

Arab Today, arab today Talks on Turkey-Russia gas pipeline frozen

Turkey-Russia gas pipeline
Istanbul - AFP

Talks between Russia and Turkey on building a new gas pipeline between the two countries are currently frozen amid differences over the price of Russian gas imports, a Turkish official said Friday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the plan for the Turkstream pipeline in a shock move in December 2014, saying it would replace Russia's now junked South Stream joint venture with EU firms.

However, despite the fanfare of the announcement, construction of the pipeline has never properly got under way, leaving analysts suspicious over the feasibility of the project.

"I am not saying the sides have walked away from the table. I am saying that the talks are frozen," Turkish media quoted energy ministry assistant under-secretary Sefa Sadık Aytekin as saying on the sidelines of a conference in Istanbul.

He said that talks were "deadlocked" because of preconditions imposed by Russian gas giant Gazprom for the reduction Turkey wants in the price of Russian gas imports.

"At this point I see a mutual distrust," he said, adding that the negotiations would have been easier if Russia agreed the price reduction. "Russia has lost considerable time," he said.

Analysts had already questioned the need for the project at a time when global energy prices are falling and the EU is looking for alternatives to Russian gas.

The plan for Turkstream envisages four 900 kilometre (560 mile) long offshore pipelines underneath the Black Sea linking southern Russia to western Turkey.

This would allow Russia to achieve its goal of delivering gas to Europe while avoiding the territory of its conflict-torn neighbour Ukraine.

The projected capacity of the project is 63 billion cubic metres of gas.

The project was also seen as a symbol of improving relations between Russia and Turkey under strongmen leaders Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at a time of frosty ties with the West.

The first of the four lines was due to be constructed by December 2016, with the gas first going to the Turkish market and then to foreign buyers.

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