EU hopes to start gas deliveries bypassing Russia by 2019

EU hopes to start gas deliveries bypassing Russia by 2019
The first energy supplies to Europe from the Caspian region via the “Southern Gas Corridor” will begin by 2019 says Maros Sefcovic, European Commissioner for Energy Union.

He was speaking in Brussels at a meeting with energy minister from Bulgaria, Slovenia, Austria, Croatia, Italy, Greece, and Romania.They were discussing their energy game plan after the cancellation of the South Stream pipeline project.

READ MORE: Putin: Russia forced to withdraw from South Stream project due to EU stance

Sefcovic said ministers discussed "the possibility of simplifying the political and bureaucratic problems of the implementation of the European energy project."

"We need to explore alternative options to South Stream to ensure energy supply. The most important projects to be completed as soon as possible," said Sefcovic at Tuesday’s meeting in Brussels.

Southern Gas Corridor is a European project based on the system of local pipelines, which should ensure the delivery of gas to the EU from the Caspian region, bypassing Russia.

The corridor provides for the delivery of 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Azerbaijan to Europe via the Trans-Anatolian pipeline. The European Commission expects the project will meet 20 percent of the EU's gas needs.

However, there is much debate on how the project will be financed as EU countries are not expecting to get compensation from the ending of South Stream.

Other alternatives to diversify European gas supplies from Russia include developing LNG terminals and East Mediterranean and Black Sea offshore gas reserves, the EU press release said. The EU also welcomed the deal signed Tuesday to connect Greece, Bulgaria and Romania by the natural gas "Vertical Corridor."

The energy security of European customers could be at risk, as instead of the planned South Stream gas pipeline Russia has decided to redirect the capacity to Turkey from Bulgaria. The so-called “Turkish South Stream” will be able to deliver 63 bcm of Russian gas, the same volume expected from South Stream. Russia and Turkey also agreed to increase the capacity of the existing Blue Stream pipe from 16 bcm to 19 bcm a year.

READ MORE: Why Putin pulled the plug on EU-South Stream project

The informal South Stream meeting is going as the EU's foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini is on an official visit to Turkey. During the visit Mogherini will be accompanied by the EU Neighborhood and Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn.

Their talks are expected to include discussions on the resistance to ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Mogherini and Hahn may also seek to gain Turkish support for sanctions against Russia, although the EU decision-makers have little hope that Turkey would join them, says TASS referring to unofficial sources.

EU officials also want to clarify Turkey’s decision to agree the re-routing of Russian gas projects after South Stream construction was suspended.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron is also visiting Turkey Tuesday to discuss ISIS related issues.