ANKARA, April 29 (Reuters) - Turkey could more than triple its purchases of Azeri natural gas once the planned $10 billion TANAP pipeline reaches full capacity in 2026, the general manager of the project told Reuters on Wednesday.
Plans call for the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) to initially carry 16 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year by mid-2018.
Some 6 bcm of that will be for Turkey, with the rest transiting to Europe.
“Once the flow in the pipeline reaches 31 bcm, Turkey will be able to buy 21 bcm of this if it wants to. Both BOTAS or Turkish private companies can buy this,” Saltuk Duzyol said in an interview.
The 1,850 km pipeline stretching from Turkey’s border with Georgia to Greece is important to Turkey and to Europe’s efforts to lessen its dependence on Russian gas.
The gas will come from Azerbaijan’s vast Shah Deniz II field in the Caspian Sea which is being developed by a BP-led consortium.
TANAP will deliver 10 bcm to Europe once it is connected to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) by 2020. By 2023, TANAP’s capacity will rise to 23 bcm per year and then to 31 bcm by 2026, according to project executives.
Price competition could emerge from Russia’s proposed new undersea pipeline, dubbed “Turkish Stream”, Duzyol said.
Facing objections from the EU, Russia abandoned its $40 billion South Stream project which would have crossed the Black Sea to Bulgaria, bypassing Ukraine.
Moscow is now proposing Turkish Stream as an alternative although Ankara’s response to the project, which envisages piping gas to a hub on the Turkish-Greek border, has been lukewarm.
“In mid- to long term, it is possible that we will see price competition once the pipelines in both projects reach the Thrace,” Duzyol said, referring to the western outlet of Turkey to Europe.
“This competition would be good for customers both in Turkey and in Greece,” he said.
Energy officials have said TANAP remains their priority.
Writing by Humeyra Pamuk; editing by Jason Neely