Russia and Greece to ink Turkish Stream gas pipeline deal within days - Greek minister

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stands nearby, during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, April 8, 2015. (Reuters/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Russia and Greece are to sign a memorandum of cooperation on the construction of a new pipeline in the Turkish Stream project which will deliver Russian gas to Europe via Greece, according to the Greek energy minister.

The memorandum is expected to be signed in the next few days, Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis said in an interview with the Sputnik news agency, adding that the pipeline would be not only a route between Greece and Russia but would as well be very important for Europe.

“The visit of the government delegation, the meeting of Tsipras and Putin open the way for the pipeline which will begin at the border with Turkey and end at the border with Macedonia in the direction of Central Europe. This pipeline is extremely important for energy security and cooperation in Europe," Lafazanis said.

The minister said that Athens expected to "receive significant financial dividends for the pipeline's operations,” and that the pipeline will bring “extremely important profits to Greece, first of all, cheaper gas.” Currently Russian gas covers 66 percent of Greece’s energy needs.

READ MORE: Greece hasn’t asked Russia for bailout – Putin

The Turkish Stream gas pipeline could help Greece become one of the main energy distribution centers in Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday during his meeting with the Greek delegation. Athens could earn hundreds of millions of euro through gas transit annually if it joins the Turkish Stream pipeline project, he added.

The Russian President also stressed that Greece could use revenues from potential joint projects with Russia to pay off its debt to international creditors.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who was in Moscow on Wednesday on an official visit, voiced his interest in the project as he sees it as a way to boost jobs and investment in the country.

Turkish Stream Project

In December, the CEO of Russian energy major Gazprom Aleksey Miller announced the construction of the Turkish Stream pipeline to Turkey with an annual capacity of 63 billion cubic meters of gas. Around 14 billion cubic meters of gas are to be supplied to Turkey, with the rest being pumped to a hub on the Turkish-Greek border for customers in Europe.

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

The new pipeline running under the Black Sea replaces the South Stream project. Last year, Russia scrapped South Stream because of objections from the EU over its construction. It was to supply gas to Southern Europe via Bulgaria, avoiding Ukraine. Instead, Russia said it would redirect the new pipeline to Turkey.