Baku, Azerbaijan, Aug. 8
By Elmira Tariverdiyeva – Trend:
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, on the official visit to Baku, in a joint statement made for press with the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, has announced the plans to expand cooperation in the energy sector between the two countries.
President Berdimuhamedov said that Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan use all opportunities to implement new joint projects to diversify energy and transportation flows and develop their potential.
The Trans-Caspian pipeline, through which Turkmen gas could be supplied to Europe via Azerbaijan and Turkey, might be one of the important projects that would diversify energy flows from Turkmenistan.
For many years, Turkmenistan has not been ready to begin large-scale supplies of its gas to the west via Azerbaijan and then through the TANAP pipeline, which was initiated by Baku and Ankara. Nonetheless, today's geopolitical situation in the region makes diversification of Turkmen gas supply a necessary element of the country's economic security.
The Trans-Caspian project is equally beneficial to Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan despite many speculations in mass media about the mythical rivalry between the two countries on the gas market. In fact, there is no rivalry.
There are customers willing to buy gas, which will be supplied through the Southern Gas Corridor from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field, and relevant contracts have been concluded for many years ahead.
Turkmen gas can help the Southern Gas Corridor become larger-scaled and, as a result, more profitable, which is of paramount importance for the energy security of Europe.
Here, Baku gains, rather than loses, taking into account not only the transit tariffs for hydrocarbons being supplied through its territory. Equity in TANAP and TAP projects will also allow Baku to get profit from gas transit. By the way, Iran, which also wants to enter the European gas market, may join the Southern Gas Corridor at a later time.
The assumptions of the Armenian media and some Russian "experts" about the possibility of creating new routes for supplying Iranian and Turkmen gas through Armenia are ridiculous.
Firstly, none of the sides has the desire and extra funds to start from scratch in order to build a gas infrastructure for the purposes of constructing longer, more expensive and less secure route to Europe, taking into account a very real Southern Gas Corridor with transparent schemes of transit operations and real investors.
Secondly, nobody will deal with Armenia, which is dependent on Russia, as the EU's main goal is to avoid Moscow's monopoly on the gas market.
Thus, without reviewing the absurd options, it is obvious that the Southern Gas Corridor, which was designed with the expectation of bigger volumes of gas than it was initially supplied with, will be the most reliable and convenient way of supplying Turkmen gas.
The fact that Ashgabat has recently launched the construction of the East-West gas pipeline proves once again its intention to diversify country’s gas supplies. This gas pipeline will transport gas from the biggest gas fields across the country to the Caspian coast. The construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline can be the next step for the creation of the gas infrastructure.
As for the status of the Caspian Sea, Ashgabat and Baku have a common position on the construction of the gas infrastructure. Laying a pipeline between the two countries and in their territorial waters concerns only Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan and the construction will not affect other Caspian littoral countries.
As for the third participant in this format – Turkey, along with Baku, it is profitable for Ankara, as a transit country, to transport more gas via the TANAP pipeline, which will certainly increase the income of both Azerbaijan and Turkey due to transit of hydrocarbons via their territories.
Furthermore, the implementation of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline project will automatically turn Turkey into the biggest European energy hub, which is important for Ankara’s image and geopolitical point of view
Elmira Tariverdiyeva is the head of Trend Agency’s Russian news service, follow her on Twitter:@EmmaTariver