(OILPRICE) – On November 19th, President Putin will stand shoulder to shoulder with President Erdogan during a ceremony to celebrate the completion of the first string of Turk Stream. The subsea gas pipeline will transfer 15.75 bcm directly from mainland Russia to Turkey. The capacity will double after the second string is completed. The pipeline will be operational at the end of 2019. Despite several setbacks, mutual interests concerning security and trade have ensured the strengthening of cooperation between Russia and Turkey in the face of opposition from the West. The first string of Turk Stream, which is almost completed, is important for bilateral relations. The second string, however, will service the European market and is a sign of Gazprom’s successful strategy in the face of opposition from the EU and several European countries.
Rising tensions between Russia and the West after the crisis in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea made Moscow reconsider its massive South Stream project. The pipeline would circumvent Ukraine and transport 63 bcm of natural gas to Europe via Bulgaria. The unbundling legislation and strong opposition from both Brussels and several European countries made Gazprom ditch South Stream and opt for a smaller albeit equally important Turk Stream. The strategy has worked as European companies are scrambling to participate in the project.