CORRECTED: Construction of TurkStream pipeline to start in June
Construction of the 1,100-kilometre (684-mile) TurkStream pipeline supplying Russian gas to Turkey will begin at the end of June, a spokesman for the Gazprom-backed project told AFP Wednesday.
The official attending a global gas conference in Paris said that an accord concluded in May with the Saipem construction group will allow work on the first of four sections of TurkStream to start by the end of June.
During the conference, officials revealed the name of the 63 billion cubic metre capacity pipeline had been changed from the original Turkish Stream to TurkStream.
That news follows Gazprom's May 7 forecast of TurkStream beginning operations in December 2016, providing the company an alternative route for pumping Russian gas westward that averts its pipeline across Ukraine.
The new pipeline -- stretching to Turkey's border with Greece via the Black Sea -- was announced in December 2014 by Russian President Vladimir Putin to replace the initial South Stream project to supply gas to southern Europe with a conduit to Bulgaria.
South Stream was scrapped amid rising tensions between Moscow and the European Union over separatist violence in Ukraine, and concerns in Brussels over Gazprom's alleged dominance of Europe's gas market.
Despite the looming start of construction, Russia has yet to sign an inter-governmental agreement with Turkey on TurkStream, held up by what media reports describe as deadlocked negotiations over the price of piped Russian gas.
Asked about the project during a press conference Tuesday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said "all the documents are currently being prepared and everything is functioning in that regard," and that Russia "has reached an agreement in principle with Turkey."
© 2015 AFP