Russian plan to pipe gas through Turkey instead of Balkans may shake up region's energy market

ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey and Russia are looking to shake up the energy market in southeastern Europe, after Moscow scrapped a multibillion dollar pipeline project that was to cross the region and instead sought to create a link to Turkey.

Spiraling tensions between Europe and Russia were behind Moscow’s decision to scrap the South Stream pipeline, which would have travelled through many Balkan states. Countries in the region on Tuesday were counting the political and financial cost of the shift.

Turkey stands to benefit from the prospect of becoming a major transit country for Russian gas. Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Tuesday his government will study the Russian proposal.

Yildiz said the proposal would boost Turkish aims of becoming a world energy hub but said it was too early to “pronounce a final word.”

“It will be studied and the results of the study will be presented to our president and prime minister,” Yildiz said.

In the European countries that were preparing for the South Stream to cross their territories, governments were assessing the fallout of the project’s collapse.

Hungary in particularly had been a proponent of the project, clashing with the European Union, which was opposed to its building amid concerns of allowing Russia to own a pipeline on the bloc’s territory.

Hungary’s opposition parties said Tuesday that Russia’s decision to cancel the South Stream pipeline shows Prime Minister Viktor Orban was wrong to cozy up to Moscow. The Liberal Party said it was an “ugly and spectacular” failure by the government.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said the government will look for new options to improve its long-term supply of energy.


Gorondi reported from Budapest.