Russian energy major Gazprom announced that the company will begin to shift the flow of natural gas supplies destined for the European Union. Gazprom chief Alexei Miller stated that the company will begin to channel resources through Turkey, and from that point into European markets. The move appears to be geopolitically motivated, as it will obligate the European Union to build the necessary connecting infrastructure near the borders of Turkey and Greece, or lose Russian gas supplies altogether. The move has predictably drawn the ire of the European Union’s energy minister, who has lambasted the move as nonsensical and damaging to Russia’s reputation as an energy supplier.
In the immediate term, the move will not redound to the benefit of either side. The European Union has begun to develop interconnectors that will permit European states to supply each other with gas even if Russia cuts supplies to one or more European states. Russia’s ability to rapidly reroute its natural gas supplies is questionable, as is Turkey’s to work expeditiously to expand the partnership. The Russian government has announced that its deal with Turkey will afford Ankara a discounted rate of 6% below the market rate.
The move to reroute supplies to Turkey comes on the heels of the Kremlin’s announcement that the planned South Stream project would not come to fruition due to a lack of funding. Russia has actively sought out new or expanded partnerships with China, inking a historic 30 year deal with China’s CNPC months ago, and has also invited India to participate in Arctic oil exploration. The European Union has not yet articulated a full response to the Russian maneuver.
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