Betting on Turkey

Nikolay Makeev

Sweden acknowledged the fact of sabotage at Nord Str-eam. It is noteworthy that this happened immediately after the admission of the Russian research vessel to the accident site. Following Sweden, Denm-ark also opened its water area of the Baltic Sea to Russia. Research here is also being carried out by the gas pipeline operator Nord Stream AG. But fin-ding and punishing those responsible is one part of the problem. Second, wh-at will happen to the ex-ploded gas pipelines, are they subject to restoration? Moscow, it seems, is no longer betting on these routes, instead initiating the creation of Europe’s largest gas hub in Turkey.
Copenhagen chose not to put a spoke in the wheels of Nord Stream AG, the operator of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, which requested permission to conduct surveys in the area of the accident in the Danish exclusive economic zone of the Baltic Sea, and without much delay allowed the ship chartered by the company to approach the damage site enough to carry out the planned works distance. Now the expedition will o-nly be hindered by climatic factors – as you know, in w-inter the Baltic waters are constantly disturbed by se-vere sea storms, and the wi-nd speed here often exceeds all marks critical for underwater examination.
On the eve of the Swe-dish Security Service said that the investigation of the incident at the Nord Stream confirmed sabotage at the facilities, documenting significant damage to gas pi-pelines as a result of explosions. This happened imm-ediately after a ship under the Russian flag was all-owed to the accident site in the Swedish section of the Baltic Sea. His research c-onfirmed that damage to gas pipelines is the work of man. During the initial data collection at the Nord Stre-am incident site, two “tec-hnogenic craters” were fou-nd, one of which is as deep as a two-story building. Fr-om the section of the pipe, fragments of which are scattered within a radius of up to 250 meters, nothing remains between the pits.
Why did the obviously “unfriendly” Scandinavian countries agree to allow the Russian side to inspect the damaged areas? How can the data obtained be interpreted? What is the future of blown pipelines? For answers to these questions, MK turned to Igor Yush-kov, an expert at the Fin-ancial University under the Government of the Russian Federation and the National Energy Security Fund.
At first glance, the ease with which Copenhagen and Stockholm gave Nord Stream the “green light” to study and determine the causes of the destruction of pipelines can be seen as a goodwill gesture towards Russia. Are the Scandinavian countries really interested in identifying the specific culprits for the failure of two of the most modern underwater gas pipelines?
Not so simple. Firstly, the absence of obstacles to Nord Stream expeditions is explained by purely legal reasons – the gas pipeline is the property of our country. Secondly, it is possible that by allowing Russian specialists to investigate the circumstances of the disaster, the Swedes and Danes are well aware that it is almost impossible to find evidence proving the involvement of certain external forces in the accident. If, as a result of underwater work, an explosive device is even found planted under the remaining intact second string of Nord Stream 2, it will be possible to say that this is a fake or forgery, specially presented by Moscow to create an accusatory base against Western opponents.
Based on the results of ongoing research work, will it be possible to assess the possibility of resuscitation of the Nord Streams?
In my opinion, the main subject of discussion in the current situation is not whether it is possible to revive the Baltic gas transmission lines, but whether it is worth doing in principle. It seems that the leadership of our country, having assessed the prospects for using the Baltic highways for the export of energy resources and having analyzed the sales markets, has put an end to Nord Stream or, at least, shelved these projects. As they say, we will go the other way.
In order to find a new route for gas supplies to the EU countries, instead of the Nord Stream, our country proposed to build Europe’s largest gas hub in Turkey. The parties have already begun evaluation of the construction. By other way, do you mean this project? Is there a risk that, having made multibillion-dollar investments in a new energy route, Russia will again face similar problems that caused the shutdown of the Baltic lines?
A gas pipeline and a gas hub are fundamentally different types of raw materials transportation system. Pipelines involve the direct transfer of hydrocarbons from the starting point to the final point, and the task of the hub is to divide one energy route into two or more. Typically, such a distribution center is located at the heart of the infrastructure of various gas transmission systems, including pipelines, LNG terminals and major ports.
In Europe, the largest gas hubs are the British National Balancing Point (NBP), which is considered the most reputable European market for spot transactions with natural gas, including liquefied gas, as well as the Dutch Title Transfer Facility (TTF), which this year, thanks to supplies from various sources, has become the largest distribution center for the sale of “blue fuel” on the continent. In fact, these are virtual points of pricing and delivery of raw materials under futures contracts.
Is Turkey capable of becoming a real competitor to these European sites?
Turkey can already rightly be called a small gas hub, since not only the Turkish Stream pipeline, which exports Russian gas to Europe, but also the TANAP gas pipeline, which transports raw materials from Azerbaijan, passes through the territory of this state. Hydrocarbons also come here from Iran, as well as Russia, which is under Western sanctions. The Turks themselves are going to develop hydrocarbon deposits. Participation in such a project will allow Russia to compensate for the losses of the Nord Streams and move export supplies from the Baltic direction to the Black Sea region, and then ship gas through Turkey to other European countries.
Cooperation with Ankara to expand this transport and trade hub actually marks the beginning of a new Russian policy for the export of “blue fuel”.
Instead of building and supplying energy resources through foreign gas pipelines, the operation of which, as recent practice shows, is subject not only to economic, but also to geopolitical risks, our country is moving to the sale of raw materials through the hub system. In other words, the area of responsibility of our country will be limited to the sale of gas at its own border, and the problems of further transportation of fuel to the end customer will fall on the shoulders of the buyer, whoever he is.
In such conditions, it will be difficult to accuse Moscow of price manipulation and pressure on European consumers – there will be no leverage.