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Natural gas has limited and expensive transport options. As a result, natural gas pipelines are constantly used as tool of the political pressure and bargaining. One of the most notable battlefields is the European continent, where Russia has exerted its influence through an intricate network of pipelines. Find the text with an additional information about the pipelines below the graphics. (click on image to enlarge)


Gas Pipelines of the European Continent


  • Capacity: 55 bilion cubic meters per year. Partners: Gazprom, Wintershall, E.ON, Gasunie, Engie.

The Nord Stream pipeline became operational in 2011. First proposed in 1997, disputes between Kiev and Moscow in 2006 and 2009 prompted Russia to stop natural gas flows through Ukraine, depriving Europe of natural gas and accelerating Nord Stream construction. The pipeline enables Russia to deliver energy directly to Germany and parts of Central Europe.


  • Capacity: 20 bilion cubic meters per year. Partners: Gazprom, Wintershall, E.ON, Gasunie, Fluxys.

The NEL pipeline is complementary to the OPAL project and connects Nord Stream to existing gas infrastructure in western Germany.


  • Capacity: 35 bilion cubic meters per year. Partners: Wintershall, Gazprom, E.ON.

The German-built OPAL pipeline came operational in 2011 and connects Nord Stream to the gas infrastructure in eastern Germany and Central Europe. The EU Third Energy Package limits how much Gazprom can use OPAL. The European Commission was expected to increase exemption by 50 percent in March 2014, allowing Gazprom to use the pipeline to full capacity. However, the commission postponed its plans because of Ukraine crisis.


  • Capacity: 84 bilion cubic meters per year. Partners: Gazprom, Beltrangaz, PGNiG.

The Northern Lights and Yamal-Europe pipelines are two major systems that deliver Russian gas to Eastern Europe. Poland depends on the pipeline system and lacks good alternatives. In an attempt to become less reliant on Russian energy, Warsaw seeks to develop an LNG import facility on the Baltic Sea.


  • Capacity: 26 bilion cubic meters per year. Partners: Gazprom, Ukrtransgaz.

The Soyuz and Brotherhood pipelines are Gazprom’s major export routes for delivering gas to Europe through Ukraine. They have a total capacity of over 150 billion cubic meters. In an effort to avoid using Ukraine as a transit state, Gazprom is seeking alternative routes from 2019 onward.


  • Capacity: 132 bilion cubic meters per year. Partners: Gazprom, UkrTransGaz.

Together with the Soyuz pipeline, the Brotherhood and Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod pipeline systems are Gazprom’s major export conduits, delivering gas into Europe through Ukraine. Russia has been trying to reduce its reliance on Ukraine as a transit state.


  • Capacity: 16 bilion cubic meters per year (expanding to 19 bcm). Partners: Gazprom, BOTAS, Eni.

One of two major pipeline systems that Gazprom uses to deliver natural gas to Turkey. Gazprom can deliver about 16 bcm to Turkey via Ukraine, and another 16 bcm directly to Turkey via Blue Stream. At the moment, neither pipeline alone has the capacity to meet Turkey’s energy demands. In 2014, Turkey and Russia agreed to expand the capacity of Blue Stream by 3 bcm.


  • Capacity: 16 bilion cubic meters per year. Partners: BOTAS, Transgaz, Bulgartransgaz.

The Russian Gas-West pipelines deliver gas to Turkey through Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria. In the future Turkish demand will exceed both the existing pipelines’ capacity and a third will be needed.


  • Capacity: 55 bilion cubic meters per year. Partners: Gazprom, Shell, OMV, E.ON.

Gazprom signed a memorandum of understanding with Shell, OMV, and E.ON at the 2015 St Petersburg International Economic Forum to build the Nord Stream-2 pipeline. As proposed, Nord Stream-2 would be the same size as the original pipeline and go operational in late 2019. The pipeline will increase capacity over time to balance out reduced North Sea production.


  • Capacity: 63 bilion cubic meters per year. Partners: BOTAS, Gazprom.

The pipeline is designed to provide an alternative route to deliver natural gas into southern Europe, bypassing Ukraine. Gazprom signed a deal with Greece for the Southern European Pipeline connector that would linkup with TurkStream at the Turkey-Greece border to move supplies into Europe. Gazprom and Turkey have yet to finalize an agreement on the TurkStream pipeline itself. One of Ankara’s biggest incentives to support TurkStream would be to remove its own reliance on Ukraine-transited gas.


  • Capacity: 20 billion to 40 billion cubic meters per year. Partners: Eustream, Transgaz, Bulgartransgaz.

Eastring would connect infrastructure in Slovakia to Romania and Bulgaria. Slovakia has taken the lead on the project and even suggested connecting to TurkStream. Bratislava wants to be part of Gazprom’s plans to diversify transit options away from Ukraine because Slovakia is the critical link between pipelines in Ukraine and central Europe.


  • Capacity: 10 bilion cubic meters per year. Partners: BP, SOCAR, Statoil, Fluxys, Enegas, Axpo.

TAP is one of the EU’s South Corridor projects designed to move gas from the Caspian Sea region to Southern Europe through Turkey as a way to reduce reliance on Russia. The TAP pipeline would connect with the TANAP pipeline at the Turkey-Greece border and send gas to Italy through Albania. Construction on the project is expected to begin in 2015.


  • Capacity: 16 bilion cubic meters per year. Partners: SOCAR, BP, BOTAS.

TANAP is designed to move gas from Azerbaijan’s to Turkey, where it will connect to markets in Europe. TANAP will send 16 billion cubic meters of gas into Turkey where it will connect with the TAP pipeline to send 10 bcm onward to Europe. The TANAP and TAP projects are cornerstones of the European Union’s Southern Gas Corridor energy projects to bring Caspian-sourced gas into Europe to counteract dependence on Russia. Construction on TANAP is expected to be complete by 2018.


  • Capacity: 63 bilion cubic meters per year. Partners: Gazprom, Eni, others.

South Stream was a pipeline system that would have sent gas from Russia to Bulgaria across the Black Sea and then onward through Serbia into Central Europe. Gazprom canceled the project in December 2013 and is pursuing the TurkStream pipeline project instead, hoping to achieve the same strategic goal of bypassing Ukraine. The European Commission opposed South Stream and contributed to Gazprom’s cancellation of the project.


Putin is tying India to Pakistan with pipelines

India has traditionally been a partner of the USSR for dozens of years, and Russia gradually took the place of the collapsed superpower. With the inevitable losses in the 90’s (“the holy place is never empty” as they say in Russia), the partnership survived. By the way, the Indians refused to purchase 126 Rafale fighter jets in France (thank “Mistral”). The French fighter Rafale won the tender in late 2012. And even then it was clear that this contract will not be fully completed. As a result, after delivering the first 36 jets, India broke the contract.

“We will buy only 36 fighters, we will not buy any more. The Rafale planes are too expensive, – said the Minister of Defense of India, Manohar Parrikar, writes La Tribune with reference to the Indian news agency PRI.

 “I would also like to have a BMW and Mercedes, but I don’t, because, firstly, I cannot afford them, and secondly,  I have no urgent need for them” 

According to leaked information from the Defense Ministry of India, the cost of the contract increased from 12 to 20 billion dollars.

We will not speculate about the real reasons for breaking the contract, but the fact remains – the Indian Foreign Ministry said the price attractiveness and reliability of the Russian multi-purpose fighter Su-30 is much better compared to the “Rafale”.

fighter Su-30

A friend of India is traditionally an enemy of Pakistan – these territories artificially separated by the sly British fought among themselves constantly and violently. US so zealously helped Pakistan that it even provided it with nuclear weapons. Ukraine in defiance of Russia equipped Pakistan with modern tanks in the 90’s   – local nationalists were delighted.  And few people noticed that in order to fulfill this contract, Russia supplied its neighbor with manufacturing technologies of cannon barrels. As a result, till this day Ukraine has not developed a completely new tank but Russia strengthens and enhances cooperation with Pakistan, replacing the United States. Those tanks were still Soviet, 250 vehicles had to be maintained and modernized, it’s also necessary to supply ammunition and tank parts (the same barrels that Ukraine has not learned how to produce and Ukraine also can’t produce armor domestically).

The more reliable and cheaper to maintain Soviet equipment ousted the American. To the delight of the locals, who today do not hide their hate for their American “patrons” and regularly hunt them down. So Russia is welcomed in Pakistan and the two sides prefer to keep the conflicts between India and Pakistan about Jammu and Kashmir frozen. Because literally the fighting there is cold, expensive and useless.


What is happening now completely fits into the ancient maxim – “Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illls” – times change and we change with them.

Now Moscow is ready to build a gas pipeline in Pakistan, which will supply gas to this country from Iran. On this project Russia will make $2 billion. Some experts have warned that Pakistan gas pipeline will be only part of the route by which Iranian gas would go to China. Thus by building this pipeline Russia creates itself a competitor in the Chinese gas-market. Partner of “Rusenergy,” Michael Krutikhin, says Iran is now holding talks with Pakistan and China and in fact a natural gas pipeline that Russia will build is going to be a part of the future route of the gas from Iran to China.

“Participation of Russia in the Pakistani project is quite unfavorable: deliveries from Iran will reduce the need of China for gas, including gas from Russia.” But is this true?


The website of the Cabinet of Ministers of Pakistan stated that it is about “creating and enabling environment for construction with participation of the Russian side of the gas pipeline “North – South” in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan from Karachi to Lahore” (the coast of Pakistan to the border with India). The length is about 1.1 thousand km, capacity – 12.4 billion cubic meters of gas per year. Start of the pipeline construction is planned for 2017.

Initially, the pipeline was designed to bring gas from Iran, it will be shipped by sea in liquefied form to Karachi. Pakistan is a resource-poor state and is experiencing an acute shortage of electricity in the domestic market. These volumes, by definition, will not go left and the volumes compared with the needs of China are small. As they are small compared with the lines that are constructed to China from Russia.

At present, Russia is building a gas pipeline “Power of Siberia” under which China will get more than three times the gas planned under this contract – 38 billion cubic meters of gas per year. In addition, negotiations are under way on the so-called “western route” (the gas pipeline “Altai”), which will supply China with an additional 30 billion cubic meters annually. Pakistani contract volumes are small in comparison – 12 billion cubic meters vs. 68 billion.

One must remember that for some indefinite future in which “supplies from Iran will reduce the need for China for gas, including from Russia,” it will be necessary to build completely new pipelines and build new factories of gas liquefaction, new terminals – all new. This does not exist even on paper.

Again, we all remember that the holy place is never empty. If China needs energy, it will get it. And if not Russia then the Americans, albeit through clenched teeth, will work together to build gas pipelines and LNG-terminals. Russia today is using sharp weakening of the US position in the region, using the experience of the American economic exclusion of competitors from previously captured markets.

It’s much easier and smarter to profit from a contract and tie a partner to yourself, making future quarrels for some trumped-up political pretexts economically unfeasible.

Take, for example, the last 24 years of politics and economy of Ukraine. State power under all presidents steadily deteriorated economic cooperation with Russia under the influence of Russophobic policies on which the whole state was built. Economy and profits were secondary. Temporary spikes of “love for Russia” did not change the general direction of the deterioration of all ties – political, economic, scientific and social. The rest is history.

With regard to Russia’s steps in Asia, they fit into the strategy of maintaining a balance of interests in the crucial “triangle” of countries – China, India and Pakistan, together with a complex “bundle” of relations. Confirmation of such a course is the decision to let both India and Pakistan into SCO simultaneously.

Pakistan acts pragmatically and quietly changing partners in the international arena on the basis of long-term interests. Not surprisingly, as it releases itself from the political pressure of the US, it enhances relations with neighbors in the region – after all China, Russia and India are close, and America is far beyond the ocean.

That is what the US fears – that the whole world will gradually figure out – United States is far away and it is possible to live without them. As so the superpower risks to become a hero of anecdotes – ‘cowboy Joe’. Whom no one could catch, because nobody wanted him!


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