Russia awaits Slovak offer to join Turkish Stream extension - Energy Minister

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (R) and his Slovak counterpart Robert Fico after a joint news conference following Russian-Slovak talks, in the Gorki residence.
(RIA Novosti / Ekaterina Shtukina)
Russia is awaiting an offer to join the Eastring gas pipeline project which is to be linked to Turkish Stream, Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said. It was proposed by Slovakia, which fears losing revenues from the transit of Russian gas.

"We're awaiting offers. We have not received any official offers on participating in the project yet," Novak said Wednesday, according to Tass.

On Tuesday in Moscow, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico proposed creating a joint link to the Turkish Stream gas pipeline along with Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. Slovakia is currently seeking alternative gas routes as Russia is to stop transit through Ukraine by 2019.

Belgrade understands that Russia's refusal to transit gas through Ukraine will reduce the income of Slovakia, through which gas is pumped further into Europe, Fico said.

"If we stop gas transit, our budget will suffer serious damage," he said. The documents published before the meeting affirm Slovakia’s desire to preserve its key role in the transit of Russian natural gas to EU.

"We offer a project to Russia that should become a joint project of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia with participation of the European Union. This is associated with the Russian-Turkish route where implementation of the project will start in 2016,"Fico said after talks with his counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Russia to stop gas delivery via Ukraine by 2019, push ahead with Turkish Stream - Miller

Slovakia has to look for alternative solutions as it knows that Russian gas transit via Ukraine will end within the next four years, Fico said. According to proposals so far, the Eastring East European gas pipeline is supposed to have an annual capacity of 20 billion cubic meters of gas and run from the Slovakia-Ukraine border to the border between Bulgaria and Turkey.

The new gas pipeline project is to be implemented with the support and participation of the EU, according to Fico. Its importance will increase with the realization of Turkish Stream, he added.

One-third of Russian gas delivered to Europe goes through Ukraine. However, Moscow plans to end gas transit via Ukraine when Turkish Stream is completed, as it has repeatedly expressed concerns over the reliability and safety of the Ukraine route. Russia’s Gazprom switched Ukraine to a gas prepayment scheme in June due to Kiev’s failure to pay its gas bills.

The Turkish Stream pipeline, with an annual capacity of 63 billion cubic meters, is replacing the previous South Stream project. Russia was forced to withdraw from South Stream due to the EU’s unwillingness to support the pipeline. South Stream was supposed to connect pipelines running under the Black Sea to a network in Eastern Europe, with Bulgaria as the entry point.

Within the Turkish Stream project, 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 to be further distributed to European customers.