The first stage of Russia's Turkish Stream pipeline will be ready by December 2016, state gas giant Gazprom's press office announced Thursday, in a move that will eventually allow Russian gas to bypass troublesome Ukraine on its way to Europe.
The new pipeline will be built across the Black Sea, stretching from Russia to the Greece-Turkey border. The first phase will provide gas to the south of Turkey, while another three lines will eventually transport gas through Greece to countries in south and central Europe. The pipeline is expected to have a total capacity of 63 billion cubic meters.
"The delivery of gas via Turkish Stream will start in December 2016," a Gazprom press release quoted CEO Alexei Miller as saying after meeting Thursday in Ankara with Taner Yildiz, Turkey's minister for energy and natural resources.
Kiev and Moscow are currently in a pricing dispute over gas supplies, the latest in a series of conflicts that have troubled Europe, which receives much of its gas from pipelines running through Ukraine.
President Vladimir Putin first announced plans to construct the Turkish Stream pipeline in December 2014 after plans to build a pipeline called South Stream, which also allowed Russian gas to avoid Ukraine, were cancelled after opposition from the EU.
Putin told Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras by phone Thursday he was ready to help fund Greece's participation in the project, according to a statement by the Kremlin's press office. The Kremlin is considering loaning Greece money based on profits it will earn when Turkish Stream is up and running, news agency Reuters reported in April, citing unidentified Greek government sources.