South Stream: Life After Death?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Russia begins construction on a trans-Macedonian pipeline that could resurrect the South Stream project.

The pipeline's projected capacity currently isn't large enough to substitute for South Stream, but its construction could lay the foundation for its successor. This is because Russia earlier announced that it will be phasing out all gas transit through Ukraine when Turkish Stream goes online in a few years, and urged the Balkan states to quickly agree to an alternative way to receive Russian gas, on which they all depend.

The Hungarian President discussed possible financing for an alternative Balkan pipeline with Erdogan during a four-day visit to Turkey, and the Macedonian Foreign Minister was also in Ankara on a visit as well. The latest reports are that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras pushed his planned visit to Moscow ahead by a full month, and it remains possible that the Balkan pipeline could be on the itinerary of discussion for when he arrives in Russian on 8 April.

With Bulgaria out of the picture, it appears ever more likely that a new South Stream project could be resurrected through Greece and Macedonia, with latest announcement forming the geographic basis of the new pipeline.



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