The European Commission on November 18 included the Tesla and Eastring gas pipelines in its updated Project of Common Interests (PCIs) list, which will enable the gradual build-up of the Energy Union by integrating the energy markets in Europe, diversifying the energy sources and transport routes.
“What we can say is that Tesla has been given the status of ‘Project of Common Interest’ (PCI),” a European Commission spokeswoman told New Europe on November 20, adding that the pipeline systems from Bulgaria to Slovakia (Eastring) and from Greece to Austria (Tesla) are not mature at the moment, thus their inclusion will allow supporting further studies.
Although the European Commission’s aim is to diversify gas supply sources, lessening the bloc’s reliance on Russian gas, experts say Tesla is considered to be a pillar of the Gazprom-backed Turkish Stream and reach Austria from Greece.
Both Eastring and Tesla have been included in the European Commission’s second PCI list under a cluster of consisting of several PCIs. This cluster of projects enables the comparison of the potential expansion of future new gas supplies from the Southeast, including potentially from Turkmenistan, Iran and the Caspian region, to EU markets, the Commission said. Currently such project proposals include Eastring, Tesla, the Bulgarian Gas Hub and the third phase of the Bulgaria-Romania-Hungary-Austria corridor beyond a capacity of 9 billion cubic metres per year.
Tesla could carry Azerbaijani natural gas via the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) but also Russian natural gas via Turkish Stream to Europe.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was in Antalya, Turkey, from November 15-16 to attend the G20 Leaders Summit, where he met with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The two leaders discussed the future of Turkish Stream, which was previously stalled over disagreements on a natural gas discount between the countries.
Gazprom head Alexei Miller told reporters in Antalya that Moscow and Ankara could conduct negotiations over the project to build Turkish Stream, which will run along the bottom of the Black Sea, next month. “A strategic partnership summit will take place of the highest level between Russia and Turkey, therefore the Turkish Stream will become a subject for negotiations at the interstate and intergovernmental level this year, in December,” Miller said.
Turkey and Russia agreed to a 10.25% discount on Turkey’s gas purchases in December 2014; however, almost one year after an agreement was reached, the discounted prices have yet to be implemented. In October, Turkey’s state-owned energy company, the Petroleum Pipeline Company of Turkey (BOTAŞ), requested international arbitration, as BOTAŞ and Gazprom, have not been able to come to terms on the discount to be applied to Russian natural gas prices. Putin and Erdoğan reportedly discussed the projects, however, the arbitration case was not mentioned during the discussions.
Turkish Stream was initially planned to carry 63 billion cubic metres of natural gas, however, in October, Gazprom announced that the capacity would be decreased to 32 billion cubic metres per year. The reason Turkish Stream was halved is that the Russian gas monopoly signed agreements with European companies for Nord Stream 2, which plans to transport up to 55 billion additional cubic metres of Russian gas to European markets.
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