West has chance to join Turkmenistan to Nabucco: experts

Oil&Gas Materials 16 April 2009 17:49 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, April 16 / Trend , G.Hasanov/

The West has a chance to join Turkmenistan to the European Nabucco gas pipeline project worth €7.9 billion which aims to import natural gas from Azerbaijan and Central Asia, the Turkmen experts believe.

"The West has a real opportunity to revive Nabucco. Many people in Ashgabat were disappointed by this fact that lately Russia - a key customer has sought to cast doubt on reliability of the Turkmen deliveries," the Turkmen economist said in a telephone conversation from Ashgabat. In turn, emissaries from the European Union (EU) and U.S. administration seek to meet with President Gurbangulu Berdimuhammedov, the official Turkmen source said. U.S. Assistance Secretary of State Richard A. Boucher will visit Turkmenistan soon.

Turkmenistan is one of key suppliers of natural gas in the Caspian region. So far, Ashgabat has held a "reserved" position in the European direction. Thus, even if the country discussed trans-Caspian route, it abstained from making concrete official statements. Many experts saw reasons in Russia's obligations, which imported to 40-45 billion cubic meters of gas per year and even promised to double purchases. By re-exporting the Turkmen raw material to Europe and CIS, Gazprom strengthened its dominating the "quo status" on the energy market of the old world and did not spend money to develop own fields.

The diversification of Turkmen energy carriers streams actually moved only eastwards - in China, where export can begin in 2010. Moreover, Russian contractors - "Stroytransgaz" and Viksunski Metallurgical Plant were connected to realization of this project. Thus, the first contractor should construct intra-Turkmen pipeline from fields to the Chinese pipe and the second - supplies the built Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan-China gas pipeline with pipe products.

Split the Russia-Turkmenistan gas relations has appeared in the recent weeks. First, a deal on construction of the interior-Turkmen Eastern-Western gas pipeline broke during Berdimuhammedov's visit to Moscow. This dealt envisaged to deliver the Turkmen resources from the east to the Caspian Sea. Then, an accident occurred at one of Turkmen sections of the Central Asia-Centre (CAC) at the night on April 9. Ashgabat accused Gazprom of the last incident, as the company announced about cut of the Turkmen gas very late, because the demand for this fuel was dropped on the world market due to the global economic crisis.

Turkmenistan saw that step as a serious violation of contract obligations which fraught with currency expenses for Ashgabat. As it is known, Russia imposed fine sanction on Ukraine which decreased fuel import.

The Turkmen gas transport company's representative says that Russia one-sidedly gave reproof to the notes of Turkmen foreign ministry by either reproaching in the worn out nature Turkmen pipeline, or speaking about the Turkmen dispatchers' non-professionalism.  According to previous agreements, Gazprom promised to combine efforts to reconstruct the CAC both in the territory of the transit states Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and in Turkmenistan. At the same time, by preserving "strategic" gas partnership with Russia, Turkmen side cooperated with many Russian companies, for example the KAMAZ auto-concern, which resumed production thanks to the Turkmen order. The concern halted its activity due to the crisis.

Recently, President Gurbangulu Berdimuhammedov stated that four powerful gas-compressor installations were put into exploitation and foundations of new compressor stations were laid within last two years of his leadership. "Roughly $1 billion was pent to conduct this work," he stressed and noted that Turkmenistan values its reputation of the reliable supplier of energy carriers for the World Markets and upgrades gas-transport infrastructure in time.

As part of the existing infrastructure, Turkmenistan can sell gas to neighbor Iran, besides Russia. Thus, Iran's northern provinces are located far from Iran's basic gas fields, which makes more advantageous to purchase natural gas from the nearest western fields in Turkmenistan. The Korpeje (Turkmenistan) - Kurt-Kui (Iran) gas pipeline was built in 1996. At present, negotiations on terms of the Turkmen gas deliveries are being held in Tehran upon Berdimuhammedov's instruction. Earlier, Iran applied to increase purchases from 8 billion cubic meters to 10-14 billion.

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