Region, Serbia is the key to Putin’s plan to supply Europe with gas

, SEE Energy News

After the idea of ​​Russian President Vladimir Putin that the hub of supplying Europe with Russian gas should become Turkey, the pro-government media in Serbia reported that our country would profit from it, however, the expert public points out that there is currently no possibility for this, i.e. that it is necessary to expand the capacity of the “Turkey Stream” gas pipeline to it would come true.

The explosions that damaged the gas pipelines “Nord Stream 1” and “Nord Stream 2” at the end of May, which Russia claims were diversions carried out by Great Britain, motivated the first man of that country to think about creating a gas hub in Turkey, i.e. that Ankara gets a key role in the supply of “blue energy” to consumers on the “Old Continent”. In other words, the capacity of the “Turkey Stream” gas pipeline through the territory of that country would be expanded so that larger quantities of gas could be transported further to Europe. The possibility of transporting 65 billion cubic meters of gas per year is mentioned, which should in fact represent a replacement for the “South Stream” gas pipeline, the construction of which was suspended at one time.

Given that Serbia is already supplied with Russian gas via Turkey through the “Turkey Stream” gas pipeline in Europe, i.e. the “Balkan Stream”, as it is also called in our country, analysts sympathetic to the current authorities in Serbia are already talking about how this will result in a large aims to profit our country, by making money from the collection of transit fees for gas that will go to other countries in Europe.

However, in the given situation, experts explain, such a thing is absolutely not possible because the existing capacities of the gas pipeline that flows through Serbia are too small to be able to transport through it the quantities needed by large consumers in the countries of the European Union.

Namely, the capacity of the “Balkan Stream” through which Russian gas reaches Serbia from Turkey via Bulgaria amounts to 15.7 billion cubic meters of gas per year. While, this spring, Moscow did not stop supplying Sofia with natural gas because it refused to pay for it in rubles, as the Russian side requested, that country took close to three billion cubic meters of gas from Russia.

Serbia receives about 2.2 billion cubic meters of gas, Hungary about three billion and Croatia one billion cubic meters of gas through the “Balkan stream”. These data clearly show that the remaining quantities allowed by the capacity are too small to be able to provide even close to sufficient quantities of “blue energy” needed by EU countries, which are large consumers.

In other words, without expanding the capacity of “Turkish Stream 2” in Europe, i.e. the “Balkan Stream”, Serbia cannot realize any benefits from Moscow and Ankara agreeing on Turkey becoming the largest hub for supplying consumers in the European Union.

Truth be told, the Russian side is ready to think in that direction and to build another branch of the gas pipeline from Turkey to Serbia. How much money Belgrade could earn from that project would depend on the capacity of that gas pipeline and its route.

Also, it should be emphasized that Moscow and Ankara agreed to lead a dialogue on the implementation of the gas hub construction project in Turkey, but did not reach an agreement to actually implement that work. So, everything about him is still “on a long stick”.

Economist Milan R. Kovačević tells Danas that in the conditions in which the European Union wants to end dependence on Russian gas and is introducing a series of sanctions to the country’s energy sector due to the war in Ukraine, the capacity of the “Balkan Stream” is not large and the supply of our country with Russian gas depends from Bulgaria, which no longer imports it, it is not realistic to talk about the construction of a gas plant in Turkey representing any chance for Serbia.

– A particularly aggravating factor is that Sofia no longer receives gas from Moscow. And Russian gas cannot reach Serbia without crossing the territory of that neighboring country. The quantities that now flow through the gas pipeline through our country are intended to meet the capacity of its and consumers in some other surrounding countries. However, the total capacity is very small and cannot meet the needs of consumers in the European Union. There is gas in it for Serbia, Hungary, Croatia, there will also be gas for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that’s all. The remaining capacity is very small to meet the needs of users in the European Union – says our interlocutor.

He adds that the situation would change significantly if another branch of that gas pipeline were built, and that in that case and if there is political will for EU countries to buy Russian gas, Serbia could profit as a country that would charge a tax for transporting gas through its territory. 

The General Secretary of the Serbian Gas Association, Vojislav Vuletić, also believes that the construction of a gas hub in Turkey is not something that Serbia can benefit from right now.

– In our country, it is often thought that significant funds can be collected immediately from such projects. This is simply not true because it takes time to implement them. From the moment the decision is made to implement such a large investment, at least five more years must pass until the expansion of the gas pipeline is completed. Moscow’s plan is for what was supposed to be the “South Stream” to take on the role of the “Turkish Stream”, which would be significantly expanded to that end. When new pipelines are built, including the one to Serbia, which will provide greater gas capacity, then our country will earn more from transit fees. The project is otherwise a good idea and its advantage is not only that there will be sufficient quantities of gas from Russia, but also quantities from Azerbaijan, Danas writes.