Erdogan and Putin Forge Closer Ties with TurkStream: Turkey to Establish Natural Gas Distribution Centre with Russia

After Russian President Vladimir Putin touted Turkey as the "best route" for redirecting gas supplies to Europe, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that a natural gas distribution centre will be established in Thrace with Russia.

He said the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and the relevant institution on the Russian side have been instructed to work together. "We will find the most appropriate place for this distribution centre and will build it." Putin proposed that Russia could export more gas through Turkey and turn it into a new supply hub.

Erdogan and Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin touted Turkey as the “best route” for redirecting gas supplies to Europe. CEEnergy

Most Reliable Route

Putin believes Turkey offers the most reliable route to deliver gas to the European Union. The Kremlin wants to redirect supplies away from the two Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic after the infrastructure was damaged last month in explosions.

On October 13, during a meeting with Erdogan in the capital of Kazakhstan – Astana, the Russian president said Turkey has proven to be the most reliable route for gas supplies to Europe. "Thanks to your firm position in support of building TurkStream." Putin suggested that Russia could create a major gas hub in Turkey by redirecting supplies intended for the Nord Stream pipelines under the Baltic Sea, which were recently damaged by explosions.

But Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman, said the TurkStream gas pipeline cannot be a replacement for the Nord Stream pipelines because they have different capacities.

Ambitious TurkStream

The TurkStream will be made of two subsea lines, with a combined throughput capacity of 31.5 billion cubic metres per annum of gas. About half this will enter the European market via Greece. Gazprom started shipping gas via TurkStream on January 2020. It replaced supplies via the Trans-Balkan pipeline through Ukraine and Romania.

Alexei Miller, Gazprom executive chairman, implied that the pipelines in the Black Sea are less vulnerable to "terrorist acts" because they lie at water depths of more than 2000 metres. Moreover, Russia claimed culprits tried a Nord Steam-like sabotage on Turkish pipeline. As such, the Kremlin is stepping up security on the TurkStream pipeline.

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) prevented an attempt by the Ukrainian special services to commit a sabotage and terrorist act at the facility of the oil and gas complex the supplies energy to Turkey and Europe. The FSB said it detained a Russian citizen who was recruited by the Ukrainian special service.

Determining the Price

Moreover, Putin believes the proposed hub would allow prices to be set independent of politics.

Vladimir Putin

"In the course of the work of this hub, which we could create together, of course, it would also be a platform not only for supplies, but also for determining the price, because this is a very important issue are – the issue of pricing," he said. "Today, these prices are sky high; we could easily regulate them at a normal market level, without any political overtones.