South Stream is looking for a new course

Gazprom is reviving the project on a small scale.
Over the past month, Gazprom, without loud statements, signed "road maps" with Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary on the development of gas pipelines for gas supplies from the future second thread of the Turkish Stream. Thus, the company actually reanimates the South Stream project canceled in 2013 at the insistence of the European Commission, but with four times less power. Although this option allows Gazprom to supply gas to the Balkans, it is likely to compete with another route of the monopoly for delivering gas to South Italy, the Poseidon gas pipeline - experts say that after the failure of South Stream, the company does not trust Bulgaria very much.

Gazprom and the Hungarian government yesterday signed a road map on the development of the country's gas transmission system. Similar documents were signed in June with Bulgaria and Serbia. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Siyarto stated directly after the talks that it was about delivering 8 billion cubic meters of gas from the Turkish Stream from Serbia to the country.

Now Budapest transit through Ukraine receives from Gazprom 5,7 billion cubic meters from 11,1 billion cubic meters of the general consumption of Hungary. Gazprom's contract to supply gas to the country ends in 2019, and in Budapest they want guarantees that they will receive Russian gas after the Russian supplier's transit contract with Naftogaz of Ukraine expires in the same year. Yesterday, Gazprom Export and the state-owned Hungarian Gas Trade Ltd concluded a memorandum of intent "to continue long-term cooperation in the field of gas supplies." One source at Kommersant assures that the documents provide for the possibility of transferring the point of delivery of gas from Beregdarovets on the border with Ukraine to the Serbian-Hungarian border. Gazprom does not comment on this.

In fact, the route Bulgaria-Serbia-Hungary repeats the main part of the South Stream gas pipeline route, which was fully prepared for implementation, but canceled in December 2013 because of Bulgaria's position and Brussels pressure.

The difference is that the planned gas pipeline through the Black Sea - now the "Turkish Stream" - will go not directly to Bulgaria, but to Turkey. In addition, for the Balkans only one of the two threads of the Turkish Stream, that is, 15.75 billion cubic meters, can be designed, which is four times less than the capacity of South Stream. Judging by the statements of Bulgaria and Hungary, new capacities will be created by gas transport operators of the countries in accordance with the Third Energy Package of the EU (South Stream sites should have been built by the operators with Gazprom). But the president of Serbia (the country does not belong to the EU and does not apply the Third energy package) Alexander Vučić said on July 2 that he hopes for "Russia's help" in the construction of a transit gas pipeline. A special advantage for Gazprom can be considered that the pipe can be built quickly thanks to the developments on the South Stream, including the laying of the route and the preparation of the EIA.

At the same time, Gazprom can not simultaneously send volumes from the second thread of the Turkish Stream to the Balkans and build the Poseidon gas pipeline to supply the same gas to Southern Italy. According to Kommersant, supplies to the Balkans for the Russian company are more important, since Italy can be supplied from the north with Nord Stream-2 gas, although this is expensive. But Hungary and Serbia can now be secured only through Ukraine, which forces Gazprom to negotiate with Kiev on transit after 2020. According to the interlocutors of "Kommersant", until the final decision on the direction of further gas supplies from the second thread of the "Turkish flow" is not.

"I think that Gazprom remembers perfectly how Bulgaria set it up in 2013," says Vitaly Kryukov from Small Letters. He believes that such a project will face political problems, and its members do not have influential countries to defend the project from Brussels, as Germany does in the case of Nord Stream-2. According to the expert, Gazprom needs a Balkan variant to diversify from risks, including from Turkey.