Turkish counterstream

Gazprom Group can sell its shares in Bosphorus gas and Akfel Holding.
As it became known to Kommersant, Gazprombank leaves the gas business in Turkey, selling its stake in the trader Akfel Holding, nationalized in late 2016. Given the plans of Gazprom to sell its other asset in the country - Bosphorus gas, the group this year can completely leave the Turkish market. According to "Kommersant", the final decision on this has not yet been made. Monopoly is still considering options for resuscitation of the marketing business in Turkey, despite the stagnation of the market and uneasy relations with the authorities.

Gazprombank (GPB) is in the final stage of withdrawal from Promak, which owns a controlling stake (60%) in two importers of Russian gas to Turkey - Enerco and Avrasya, sources familiar with the situation told Kommersant. The bank in Promak owned 40%, the rest from Akfel Holding, which in late 2016 was de facto nationalized (see "Kommersant" on December 12). The amount of the transaction, according to sources, "b", could be about € 40 million in the GPB did not provide comments.

When GPB and Akfel created Promak in 2014, making their shares in AvtoVAZ and Enerco in the joint venture, they agreed on a call option, which allowed each side to buy out another's share within two years. At that time, it seemed most likely that the share of the Turkish partners - the Baltachi family that controlled the Akfel - would be bought by the Russian bank. In parallel, Gazprom negotiated the purchase of 50% of Akfel gas, which is part of Akfel Holding.

Akfel gas has a contract with Gazprom for the supply of 2.25 billion cubic meters of gas per year, Enerco for 2.5 billion cubic meters, Avrasya for 0.5 billion. Gazprom also has a 71% stake in Bosphorus gaz With a contract for 2.5 billion cubic meters. Having received 50% in Akfel gas, Gazprom would control about 16% of the Turkish gas market, while providing about 60% of gas imports to the country.

But the Turkish regulator never agreed on a deal with Akfel gas, and in 2015 the aggravation of political relations between Russia and Turkey questioned the feasibility of Gazprom's presence in the local market. In 2016, GPB decided to sell the stake in Promak under the option, received the regulator's permission and the first payment from Akfel Holding. But in early December Akfel Holding was nationalized by the Turkish State Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) on suspicion of financing the organization of Fethullah Gülen (recognized in Turkey as a terrorist). This slowed down the deal, its course was resumed only in the spring, sources say Kommersant.

Gazprom is also going to sell Bosphorus, in early June this was talked about by the deputy chairman of the monopoly board, Alexander Medvedev. The buyer will be the local Sen Group, which now owns the remaining 29% in Bosphorus. Mr. Medvedev explained that the Turkish market is losing its appeal due to the weakening of the lira and regulated tariffs, and referred to the "unpredictability": "We see what actions are being taken by the Turkish side with other private companies." According to the interlocutors of "Kommersant", the most important factor was the losses of Bosphorus - about € 100 million in 2016.

As a result of these transactions, Gazprom can completely withdraw from the domestic market of Turkey, remaining only an exporter. Such a configuration can strengthen Gazprom's negotiating position in disputes over the price of gas, as the company will no longer be directly interested in maintaining the profitability of the sales business. Now Gazprom is in arbitration absolutely with all Turkish clients - both with state Botas, and with private importers. But, according to Kommersant sources, the final decision on the withdrawal of Gazprom from Turkey has not yet been made. Moreover, in February, Gazprom Turkey Enerji A.S. was established, the founder of which, according to the interlocutors of "b", was Gazprom Schweiz.

The company also applied for a license for import and export of gas. A number of interlocutors of Kommersant believe that in the future some of the volumes of gas previously purchased by other structures of Gazprom could be transferred to the company. Other Kommersant sources doubt this, since they believe that Ankara will not allow the existence of a company wholly owned by Gazprom, and the monopoly will be suspicious of potential Turkish partners.

The problem is that the Turkish market, which three years ago promised to become the second for Gazprom in terms of sales after Germany, actually went into stagnation. At the same time, the position of gas from the Russian Federation is increasingly vulnerable to it, as Turkey is actively working on other sources, increasing the number of LNG terminals, and in generating gas, it faces increasing competition with coal. According to Gulmira Rzaeva of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, gas consumption in Turkey will grow very moderately and from the current annual volume of 48 billion cubic meters will reach 50 billion cubic meters per year only by 2020.