Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday (7 June) that Russia had not “definitively” canceled either the South Stream or Turkish Stream European gas export pipeline projects, but needed a clear position on them from Europe.
Putin made the comments after talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said there were no legislative restrictions preventing Russian firms from taking part in the development of Israel’s new offshore gas fields.
“There are certain political difficulties with Turkey – this is widely known. But we have not irreversibly canceled any of these projects – neither South Stream nor Turkish Stream,” Putin said, according to a transcript published by the Kremlin website.
Russia froze talks on Turkish Stream, which aimed to increase Russian gas exports to southern Europe via Turkey, after a Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft was shot down by a Turkish jet near the Syrian-Turkish border last November.
It scrapped South Stream, which would have also supplied Russian gas to southern Europe, in late 2014 because of objections from the European Union on competition grounds.
“We only need a clear position from the European Commission,” Putin said. “Clear, understandable and unequivocal. So far there does not exist any, on either of these projects.”
Asked about what would happen if Poland stopped buying Russian gas after a long-term contract between the two countries expires, Putin said Russia could look for other markets.
“Gazprom is looking at the possibility … of making an offer to any other partner, Polish or European or anyone else, to buy the volumes which we send to Poland today at the Belarussian-Polish border after the end of the contract,” Putin said, adding that Gazprom’s offer could be for gas volumes for 10-15 years.
“Maybe the Israelis will buy the Russian gas and sell it to Poland,” he said amid laughter.
Polish energy official Piotr Naimski told Reuters last month that Poland did not plan to renew its supply contract when its current deal with Gazprom expires in 2022.
Putin said Russia had so far not received official confirmation from Polish gas company PGNiG that it would stop buying gas from Gazprom when the contract expires.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said last January that ‘South Stream’ should be transformed into ‘Bulgarian Stream’, with 100% Bulgarian ownership over the pipes.
Energy Union Vice President Maroš Šefčovič has recently voiced doubts that a project similar to South Stream or Turkish Stream would be commercially viable in the first place.