Wednesday, January 14, 2015

14/1/2015: Gazprom to Europe: See You in Turkey


And we have it... from the mouthpiece of Moscow, the Rossiyskaya Gazeta (link to Russian version here).

Head of "Gazprom" Alexei Miller announced new strategy in response to the changes to the EU energy policy. This involves:
1) South Stream pipeline is dead. Permanently.
2) South Stream is to be replaced by Turkish Stream, crossing Black Sea and landing in Turkey, with no plans for connecting to Europe.
3) If Europe wants Russia gas, it will have to build its own connection from Turkey.
4) All gas supplied via Ukraine - currently 63 bcm of gas going to Europe via Ukraine transit - will be shipped via Turkish Stream.
5) Shipments of gas via non-Ukraine transit will continue (in 2013 total Russian gas supplies to Europe were 161.5 bcm and in 2014 these were down roughly 10 percent).

All of this is a response to the EU plans to monopolise purchasing of energy from outside the EU. The EU is aiming to increase its bargaining power both vis-a-vis prices of delivery and delivery channels (pipelines access). Understandably, Russian objective is to retain some pricing power and control over transit systems (remember, these systems are built either using Russian funds or a combination of funds involving Russian funds).

The implications of Miller's announcement are wide-ranging. In effect, Russia is calling Europe's bluff on both Ukraine and Energy Union.

If Ukraine is shut out of transit of Russian gas, Kiev will be forced to lock into European supply systems. The risk of non-payments - a very material risk given Kiev's track record over the 1990s and 2000s - will fall squarely onto European system. Alternatively, Ukraine will be exposed to the risk of Gazprom dictating its terms on gas supplies to Ukraine. Ukraine will also lose lucrative billions in transit fees (ca USD3bn in 2013 alone) and will face new costs for shipments of gas - cheaper via direct route from Russia, more expensive via European system link up.

Turkey is a big winner here as it gets to become the dominant key hub (ahead of Nord Stream) for transit of gas to Europe (including Central Asian gas).

EU is not necessarily a loser in this, however. Owning the pipe from Turkey to Europe, the EU will be able to negotiate transit of Central Asian gas as a substitute for Russian gas with minimal capital expenditure.

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