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TurkStream gas export pipeline stocking commences for 2019 start

Highlights

South Stream Transport BV confirms commissioning activity

Second pipeline to begin after first is completed

Construction at Turkish receiving terminal in final stages

London — Russian-Turkish natural gas transportation project TurkStream will begin to transport Russian gas to Europe by the end of 2019, project coordinator South Stream Transport BV said Friday, with the first physical commissioning flows now initiated to build pipeline stocks.

The company has begun to inject the first of the two offshore pipelines with gas, it said.

"This is the final step in the commissioning of the pipelines," it said. "Commercial gas flow through TurkStream is planned to start by the end of 2019."

Part of a dual pipeline system, the second TurkStream pipeline will commence stocking when the first has been completed, South Stream Transport BV said. Construction at the receiving terminal at Kiyikoy, Turkey, is also in its final stages, with Turkish transmission system operator BOTAS working in parallel to connect the first transport to the Turkish grid, and the second to Turkey's borders with Europe.

Upon completion, TurkStream will transport gas from the Russkaya export facility near Anapa, Russia, and across the Black Sea to Turkey, with the two strings of the project to enhance Russian export capacity by 15.75 billion cu m/year each, according to Russia gas exporter Gazprom.

The offshore section of the network was completed in November 2018, and has passed international technical specification compliance checks by certification body DNV GL.

The development comes amid great uncertainty surrounding Russian gas supplies in Q1 2020, with the ongoing transport dispute between Russia and Ukraine as yet unresolved ahead of the expiration of the long-term transportation agreement between Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz.

Naftogaz Managing Director Yuriy Vitrenko told the S&P Global Platts European Gas and LNG Summit last month that he considered the TurkStream project to be politically motivated, aimed at mitigating Russian reliance on gas transportation through Ukraine.

Onward transport from TurkStream to Greece, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania is possible using existing gas transport infrastructure.

However, due in part to an ongoing legal dispute involving Bulgarian TSO Bulgartransgaz and other onshore developers, Balkan states Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and potentially the Republic of Moldova separately, remain dependent on Ukrainian transport of Russian supply.

-- Neil Hunter, neil.hunter@spglobal.com

-- Edited by James Burgess, newsdesk@spglobal.com