By Nuran Erkul Kaya and Baris Saglam
NOVY URENGOY, Russia
More than half of the first line of the TurkStream natural gas pipeline project to deliver 35 percent of Turkey's gas needs has been completed, Gazprom officials, the project constructor, told visiting Turkish journalists at Novy Urengoy, Russia's biggest gas field and the world's second-biggest located in northern Russia.
Gazprom is the owner of the South Stream Transport BV that is constructing the pipeline to deliver 15.75 billion cubic meters of Russian gas to Turkey annually. It will also be the operator.
Officials confirmed during the Turkish journalists' visit to Novy Urengoy that the project is progressing well with first delivery to Turkey planned before the end of 2019.
Novy Urengoy is close to the autonomous district in the northern Russian arctic, where the indigenous people, the Nenets live. The region currently holds 12 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves and is almost totally dependent on the natural gas industry.
The Turkish journalists who visited Novy Urengoy experienced the harsh climatic conditions that engulf the Gazprom-built 43-year old city that houses the workers employed in the project. The project covers over 70 percent of the company's overall natural gas production and therefore is considered one of its most important.
Air temperatures can often reach below minus 40 Celsius in the region necessitating special heat protective clothing kit to be worn. The region is under snow during nine months of the year, and the entire city's infrastructure, housing, and social facilities have been constructed by Gazprom.
The Gazprom Dobycha Urengoy company is still developing the Novy Urengoy project.
Meanwhile, the world's biggest construction vessel Pioneering Spirit is continuing to lay the first off-shore line of TurkStream to carry 15.75 billion cubic meters of Russian gas directly to Turkey. Out of the 930-kilometer line, 530 kilometers have already been laid.
The project starts from the southern Russian town of Anapa on the Black Sea coast and will continue onto Kiyikoy in the Thrace region of Turkey.
The South Stream Transport BV company announced in early January that the building works for the Turkish onshore section of the TurkStream project kicked off with the construction of a receiving terminal for offshore gas pipelines.
Furthermore, 224 kilometers out of a total of 930 kilometers for the second line have been constructed. The second line plans to carry 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe.
Gas transfer is planned from the Ipsala border to European Union countries, although the definitive route of the second line has not been determined yet. However, negotiations with countries that are interested in the project are ongoing.
The TurkStream project is seen as contributing to Turkey's and the region's energy security since it will deliver gas without transit risks. Gazprom plans to invest 182.4 billion rubles ($3.2 billion) this year in the project.
- Europe is Gazprom's biggest customer in last 25 years
According to Gazprom officials, Gazprom's exports to Europe have been on the rise since 2012, and the continent has been the biggest customer of the company over the last 25 years.
The company exported 190 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Europe in 2017.
Because of Europe's significant gas demand, the TurkStream and the Nord Stream II pipeline, which is in the construction phase to transfer an annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters from Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea, are considered significant projects to maintain secure gas exports to Europe.
German Wintershall, Austrian OMV, Dutch Shell are some of the major partners in the Nord Stream II project.
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