It is late for EU to rely on Turkmen gas: German council expert

Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 14 / Trend V. Zhavoronkova /

It is too late for European Union to develop energy relations with the region of Central Asia. Perhaps, it is the EU wrong strategy, European expert on energy in Central Asia, Stefan Meister, said.

"It is late to develop energy relations with the region. It can be the wrong strategy," the German Council on Foreign Relations expert Meister told Trend via e-mail.

The expert said the European Union is currently losing in the struggle for Central Asian gas.

"Sale of Turkmen gas to Iran and China expands a field for Ashgabat to negotiate with Russia. It can promote rise in prices for Turkmen gas," Meister said.

Now it is important to search other sources of energy in Europe itself. But it could cost the EU more expensive than buying gas from abroad, the expert said.

The expert said Brussels and the neighboring countries are not interested in the situation happening in Central Asia now. The contracts of Turkmenistan are the negative trend for Europe, but it is not a catastrophe. Despite the large amounts of Turkmen gas envisaged for Russia, Iran and China, Turkmenistan will be able to fill Nabucco gas pipeline with its gas, if it is implemented, Meister said.

Brussels and the neighboring states are not interested in what is now happening in Central Asia, the expert said, the contracts of Turkmenistan are the negative trend in Europe, "but it's not a catastrophe. Despite the large amounts of Turkmen gas destined for Russia, Iran and China, Turkmenistan also be able to fill their gas pipeline Nabucco, if implemented, says Meister.

From early January 2010 Turkmenistan resumed its gas supplies to Russia ceased in April 2009 for technical reasons. During the Russian President's visit to Ashgabat in December 2009, the agreement was reached. This agreement stipulates that Russia will be supplied with about 30 billion cubic meters of gas from Turkmenistan. Iran will receive from 8 to 20 billion cubic meters of gas per year from Turkmenistan. Gas will be supplied from Turkmenistan to China through the Trans-Asian gas pipeline Turkmenistan - Uzbekistan - Kazakhstan - China with a projected capacity of 60 billion cubic meters of gas.

The expert said the issue related to the Nabucco is that if EU countries and companies want to build the Nabucco and invest enough money in regional projects. Turkmenistan is also interested in diversifying its gas supplies by all possible ways, expert said.

Meister said it is necessary for Ashgabat to gain independence from Russia's gas monopoly. But at the same time, it is not interested in too strong dependence on China.

"Thus, cooperation with the EU will be useful to Turkmenistan to diversify its supplies and the talks on prices with all other purchasers of gas," he said.

Gas from Turkmenistan can join the Nabucco pipeline by three ways - through Russia, Iran and the Caspian Sea. At present, cooperation with Iran is impossible for European countries, because of the Iranian regime and U.S. sanctions, Meister said.

"There is transit through Russia. But the European Union is still looking for alternative ways for the transit of Central Asian gas to Europe to reduce dependence on Russia's monopoly," he said.

The expert said it is important for the EU to have other suppliers and transit countries, besides Russia, at least for competition in gas prices.

The Caspian Sea and Turkey are potential alternative transit routes for pumping gas from Central Asia to Europe. It is in the interests of the EU and other countries in the region, Meister said.

Meister is sure that all parties will agree on construction of a trans-Caspian pipeline. Construction of this pipeline is in the interests of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. But the question is who will pay for its construction?

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