Natural gas transit via Ukraine will still continue even after the TurkStream and Nord Stream-2 natural gas pipelines become fully operational, according to Danila Bochkarev, a senior fellow at the EastWest Institute, an international affairs think tank on Friday.
Refuting claims of the possibility of the reduction to zero of gas transit via Ukraine, Bochkarev told Anadolu Agency the Ukraine route is the only one to offer transportation flexibility.
"Pipeline capacity isn't just about annual volumes, daily flows matter as well," he explained and cited the example of the Ukraine route being able to cope with peak day demand that could be more than three times higher than demand on lower demand days.
The expert said that Russia's Gazprom will probably have to book at least 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year of Ukraine transit capacity, but he claimed that Ukraine's attempts to link lower transit fees to the booking of Ukraine’s entire transportation system, of over 140 bcm per year, is simply unrealistic.
"The next round of the trilateral EU-Russia-Ukraine negotiations on the transit will be held this May. The results of the Ukraine elections bring a little hope but still many things depend on Ukraine’s parliament (to be re-elected in October) and the new European Commission (to be in place in mid-October)," Bochkarev said.
As a result, he anticipates that a deal finalized by October/November would be more realistic.
Last year, Russia's Gazprom exported 194.4 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Europe from which about 30 percent was transferred via Ukraine, providing Kiev with a valuable stream of income through transit fees.
Gazprom had said earlier that it wants to bypass Ukraine for gas transit by building new pipelines from Russia to Europe.
Relations between the two countries deteriorated since Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in March 2014, and as a result, in 2015 Ukraine halted its own imports of Russian gas.
- TurkStream and Bulgaria
Bochkarev also gauged that based on signed agreements and construction plans in place that the second line of the TurkStream pipeline for now looks as if it will run through Bulgaria.
"For Turkey, it doesn't really matter as both lines have initially to pass via Turkey," he said, noting that Sofia will gain additional income from gas transit, which should compensate for the loss from the potential cessation of transit via Ukraine and the Trans-Balkan pipeline.
A consortium led by Saudi Arabia's Arkad Engineering and Construction won the tender to build the pipeline for the expansion of the gas transmission network to carry Russian gas across Bulgaria, according to Bulgaria's gas state company Bulgartransgaz on April 3.
The TurkStream twin pipeline will have a total capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters out of which 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas will be sent to Turkey while the remaining share will be transferred to Europe via Turkey.
By Murat Temizer