Three reasons for intensification of EU-Turkmenistan gas negotiations

Three reasons for intensification of EU-Turkmenistan gas negotiations

Baku, Azerbaijan, May 5

By Elena Kosolapova - Trend:

The Southern Gas Corridor is a means towards strengthening energy security of Europe, researcher of French institute of international relations and one of the reasons why the EU has stepped up talks with Turkmenistan on energy cooperation, researcher of the French Institute of International Relations Aurélie Bros told Trend.

Earlier, Vice President of the European Commission Maros Sefcovic following the talks in Turkmenistan said that the EU expects to start receiving Turkmen gas already in 2019.

Another reason for activating the talks on gas between the EU and Turkmenistan is the fact that the European Commission wants to play a stronger role in global energy markets, Bros said. "One of the most important objectives of the European Union is the establishment of a European Energy Diplomacy, as reported in the Communication of February, 25 in 2015."

"The EU wants to establish "strategic energy partnerships with increasingly important producing and transit countries" such as Turkmenistan. Remember that the EU domestic production is steadily declining," she said.

In addition, an important reason for the intensification of talks with Turkmenistan is a rapid deterioration in relations between Russia and the EU since 2014, the researcher said.

"This visit (of European Commission delegation) to Turkmenistan is due to re-open talks since the EU tries to move away from Russian gas and lessen its dependence on Russia," she said. "It is a political decision."

"It is in Caspian countries interests to diversify their gas exports," she said. "The EU is pursuing an active agenda in the region to ensure the rapid completion of the Southern Gas Corridor. It is also in EU Member States interests to diversify their gas imports. Over the medium or long term, Iran and Iraq could supply Europe by contributing to the enlargement of the Southern Gas Corridor."

She said that it is difficult to say whether the Trans-Caspian pipeline project will be realized in near future. Two immediate problems have to be confronted, Bros said. "Firstly, the pipeline must cross the Caspian Sea," she said. "The legal status of the Caspian area is unclear because of different legal interpretations. Secondly, Iran and Russia are strongly against the project."

"Both claim that the pipeline could "harm the fragile ecology of the shallow sea," she said.

The Southern Gas Corridor project envisages transportation of gas from the Caspian region through Georgia and Turkey to Europe. This large project aims at diversifying the routes and sources of energy supply that will enhance the energy security of Europe.

The gas to be produced as part of the Stage 2 of the field's development will be exported to Turkey and to the European markets by means of expanding the South Caucasus Pipeline and construction of the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).

The negotiations between the EU, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline began in September 2011.

The official position of Ashgabad regarding the project is that the consent of the countries whose territories are involved into the project is enough to build a pipeline.

Azerbaijan has repeatedly expressed readiness to provide its territory, transit facilities and infrastructure for realizing the project.

The natural gas production in Turkmenistan exceeded 76 billion cubic meters, while the export of this fuel surpassed 45 billion cubic meters in 2014. The country plans to produce over 80 billion cubic meters of commercial gas in 2015.

Edited by CN

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Follow the author on Twitter: @E_Kosolapova

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