* Permission applies for one pipe of 15.75 Bcm/year capacity
* Existing Environmental Impact Assessment will apply to new line
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Turkey has given permission to Gazprom to conduct offshore engineering surveys within Turkey's exclusive economic zone and territorial waters in the Black Sea necessary for the development of Gazprom's planned 63 Bcm a year TurkStream pipeline, the company said in a statement late Monday.
The permission covers surveys necessary for the construction of only the first of the four parallel pipes each with capacity 15.75 Bcm/year which will make up the 63 Bcm/year line and that it is envisaged that all the gas supplied via this line will go to the Turkish market.
The statement added that Turkey has confirmed that the results of the Environmental Impact Assessment obtained by Gazprom for the development of the section of the now abandoned South Stream gas pipeline which would have passed through Turkey's EEZ can be used for the new pipeline.
Turkey and Russia agreed in 2011 to allow the line to pass through Turkey's EEZ, and Turkey's environment ministry formally approved the EIA for the South Stream line in July 2014.
However the South Stream line was planned to run from Anapa on Russia's eastern Black Sea coast through Turkey's EEZ, and on through Bulgarian waters to make landfall at Varna in Bulgaria, whereas the Turk Stream line is slated to make landfall in Turkey's European province of Thrace.
The statement said the new Turk Stream line would run for 660 km (409 miles) along the route of the abandoned South Stream line and for 250 km along a new route to the Turkish coast but did not clarify whether the new surveys would apply to the whole route or just the 250-km section exclusive to TurkStream.
First proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on a visit to Ankara in December last year, the proposed 63 Bcm/year Turk Stream line replaces Russia's long planned South Stream pipeline which had been planned to run across the Black Sea and through Bulgaria but has been halted due to EU insistence that the line allow third-party access.
Turk Stream has proved controversial not just because it will enable Russia to export gas to Europe by-passing Ukraine, but also because it will deliver large volumes of Russian gas to the Turkey-Greece border potentially swamping the southeast European market and threatening the viability of the 31 Bcm/year Azerbaijani-Turkish TANAP pipeline which is expected to start delivering gas from the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian to customers in Europe in 2020.
Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said last week that he expected a formal signing of an agreement between Russia and Turkey over the planned Turk Stream line to be signed by the end of June.
Turkish energy minister Taner Yildiz said two weeks ago that no agreement signed with Moscow would be binding unless and until it is ratified by the Turkish parliament.
Turkey is currently without a government following a general election on June 7 in which the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its parliamentary majority.
Russia and Greece last week signed an accord for Greece to receive gas via the planned Turk Stream line despite current plans envisaging all of the 15.75 Bcm/year going via the first pipe to be supplied to Turkey and no confirmation of any talks on the other three planned pipes.
Reports in the Russian media Monday quoted Novak as stating that Bulgaria had proposed building a natural gas storage facility for use by TurkStream but gave no details beyond that he hoped it would be wholly on Bulgarian territory as opposed to straddling the Bulgarian-Turkish border.