Italy longs for Turkmen gas

Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 31 / Trend , A.Badalova/

The Italy-based Eni oil and gas corporation has made a proposal to facilitate the transportation of the Turkmen gas to Pakistan and India. A government source in Turkmenistan told Reuters that the company has plans to establish an infrastructure for transporting gas from the Central Asian countries to Pakistan and India and it offers its assistance in the development of hydrocarbon resources of Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan and Italy have recently sought closer cooperation, particularly in the energy sector. This week, Chairman of the Board of Eni, Paolo Scaroni has met with the Turkmen President and said that the company is ready to actively participate in joint projects, and also noted the promising Turkmen market.

Eni operates in Turkmenistan since 2008, when it managed to buy a controlling stake in Britain's Burren Energy and got access to the development of the "Burun" contract area in the Nebit Dag square (western Turkmenistan), where averagely 12,000 barrels of oil (almost 600,000 tons per year) is produced per day.

Turkmenistan ranks fourth in the world's largest gas reserves, following Russia, Iran and Qatar. According to BP, as for early 2009, the proven gas reserves in Turkmenistan amounted to 7.94 trillion cubic meters, accounting for 4.3 percent of world reserves. Gas production in the country in 2008, according to BP, amounted to 66.1 billion cubic meters, which is 0.7 percent more than production in 2007.

Turkmenistan has a giant South Iolotan-Osman gas field, whose reserves are estimated at 4 trillion-14 trillion cubic meters.

Turkmenistan now has a wide enough selection of export routes for its gas. After Russia halted the purchases of the Turkmen gas due to the accident occurred on the Central Asia-Center gas pipeline in April 2009, Turkmenistan was paying more attention to the policy of diversifying supply routes. By late 2009, it is expected to launch a new pipeline from Turkmenistan to China and Iran. In addition, the country is currently regarded as one of the gas suppliers for the Nabucco project, designed to transport gas from the Caspian region and the Middle East to the EU.

Transportation of the Turkmen gas to Pakistan and India can be carried out directly, if the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline project is implemented. An obstacle in implementation of the project, which has been under discussion for over 15 years, is military operations in Afghanistan.

Last month, the head of Eni, Paolo Scaroni signaled the company's desire to transport gas from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Iran to Pakistan, India and China. He said the logical assumption would be to create a new pipeline from the Caspian Sea to India and Pakistan, and then to China.

According to Scaroni, as Eni operates in all interested countries, the company is a "natural candidate" for the project, which, nevertheless, he said, is of long-term nature.

Asian markets, particularly markets in China and India, are quite tempting at the moment. Under the global economic crisis, the economy of the two countries demonstrates strong positive growth, which will allow the countries to accept a price proposed for the Turkmen gas. According to the forecasts of the International Monetary Fund, China's GDP growth in 2009 will amount to 8.5 percent, and India - 5.4 percent. In 2010, China's GDP is predicted to increase by 9 percent, and India - by 6.4 percent.

Along with rapid economic growth in China and India, a rise is observed in gas demand. According to BP, the demand for gas in China in 2008 amounted to 80.7 billion cubic meters, which is 15.8 percent higher than demand in 2007. The share of gas demand in China in 2008 comprised 2.7 percent of the world total demand.

The proven gas reserves in China, according to BP, stood at 2.46 trillion cubic meters as for early 2009. Gas production in the country last year amounted to 76.1 billion cubic meters with a 9.6-percent increase from 2007.

According to some projections, by 2010 gas demand in the country will grow to 150 billion cubic meters, by 2020 - up to 280 billion cubic meters as a result of economic growth and industrial development.

Gas demand in India, whose gas reserves, according to BP, were 1.09 trillion cubic meters as for early 2009, increased in 2008 by three percent and was 41.4 billion cubic meters. The share of gas demand in India comprised 1.4 percent of the world total demand last year. Gas production in the country in 2008 amounted to 30.6 billion cubic meters.

In 2008, gas demand in Pakistan totaled 37.5 billion cubic meters with a 2.6-percent increase than demand in 2007, according to BP. The proven gas reserves in the country amounted to 0.85 trillion cubic meters as for early 2009.

According to BP, gas production in the country increased by 2.6 percent and reached 37.5 billion cubic meters in 2008.

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