Serbia hopes to get in on Turkish Stream action

A proposal is on the table for the Turkish Stream gas pipeline to go through Bulgaria to Serbia.

President Aleksandar Vucic said this in an interview for Sputnik, describing the possibility as “a major development opportunity” for Serbia.

Vucic said that after the failed South Stream project, Serbia views a new deal as being of key importance, and added that this has been discussed with Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

“So, the Russians will build Turkish Stream and branch it near the Turkish-Bulgarian border, and it goes toward Istanbul and Turkey’s major cities. Earlier, there was an idea to go through Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, and Serbia. Today there is an even more realistic idea, because Bulgarians are building a European hub for receiving gas from various parts. And mostly this is Russian gas,” Vucic said.

According to him, the Bulgarians have found “a wise solution,” one that he thinks will be supported “also by the Germans.”

“At the border with Bulgaria, we will have to construct a downstream pipeline – ourselves or with the Russian help. So we will receive 9.8 billion cubic meter gas at the border. The branch lines will head for the Serb Republic, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Pristina, Croatia. And we will get the transit tax,” Vucic said.

“Each pipeline that would go through Serbia suits us, but this is the best option. This is a major development opportunity for our state, economy, industry. We would build the entire gas network ourselves,” he said.

When asked “what will happen if the West tries to stop it,” Vucic replied that Serbia is ready to buy “the cheapest and best gas from whoever” – but is not prepared to pay twice the price.

“They’d been telling us about cheaper gas via Krk (an island in Croatia) for five years, via this and that, but that would cost twice as much. Should we draw (gas) from Alexandropoulos, and have it cheaper, or from Lithuania – well, we can’t. And five years later, we’re back at square one. We don’t want to buy gas that is twice as expensive. With the new project, with any luck, we should be earning between 100 and 150 million euros per year,” Vucic said.

Commenting on “(NIS’) accelerated exploitation of oil fields,” the president said that much of the oil deposits have been extracted “and that was the reason for the profit in the first years” – but that now the oil company NIS and its majority owner, Gazprom, “have reoriented themselves – and that’s good.”

“Now deep processing is envisaged and that is good… NIS is one of the biggest fillers of our (state) budget. Gazprom is of big importance to us, as is to arrive at a 750 million cubic meter storage, and the construction will start soon. We will be able to withstand for half a year without gas (supplies) then,” Vucic concluded.

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