How can Turkmen gas be delivered to Europe?

How can Turkmen gas be delivered to Europe?

Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 12 / Trend A. Badalova /

Recently, Turkmenistan has been actively following the policy of diversifying its gas supplies. The country ranks fourth in the world on its supplies. It continues to be very interested in export of its resources to European markets. Despite this interest, the country has chosen China as a new direction of its gas export, besides the existing route to Russia and Iran.

The volume of Turkmen gas supplies via the gas pipeline Turkmenistan-China launched in December will hit $13 billion cubic meters a year. Afterwards, the volume will increase to 30 billion cubic meters. In addition, Turkmenistan can supply up to 20 billion cubic meters of gas per year to Iran due to launching the second gas pipeline in January.

Despite such large amounts out of European exports, Turkmenistan, does not refuse from the idea of gas supplies to the EU. Now it is looking for help from French companies to enter these markets. BP estimates proven gas reserves at 7.94 trillion cubic meters.

Turkmen President during his visit to Paris in February proposed GDF Suez, Total and Technip to participate in projects for exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbon resources in the Turkmen sector of the Caspian Sea, as well as infrastructure, supply of oil and gas equipment and modernization of processing facilities.

GDF Suez has expressed readiness to cooperate with Turkmenistan in the supply of hydrocarbons of this country to Europe. In particular, the company expressed its willingness to work with Turkmenistan in the sphere of development and exploration of gas fields.

Demand for gas in France, which now exceeds 44 billion cubic meters a year, is met mainly by import from Norway, Russia and Algeria.

Now Europe is actively lobbying for the Nabucco project. It is designed to supply Turkmen gas to European markets. The pipeline construction is scheduled for 2011, the first gas will be transported in 2014. Gas from Azerbaijan (proven gas reserves exceed 1.2 trillion cubic meters) and Iraq (3.17 trillion cubic meters) - to the amount of 8 billion cubic meters is expected to be pumped at the first phase of the project. In future, the Turkmen gas is planned to be included in the project.

Capacity of the Nabucco gas pipeline, ultimately, is projected to reach 31 billion cubic meters per year. It is obvious that the Turkmen gas will have significance for the project, as Iran with proven reserves of natural gas worth 29.61 trillion cubic meters, which could easily solve the problem with filling the pipeline, is not considered as a sourse now due to country's nuclear program and sanctions.

There is a risk that the Nabucco gas pipeline can be without necessary facilities. There is a big question how the Turkmen gas will be pumped into the pipeline.

Construction of the Trans-Caspian pipeline which will connect Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan is the most correct variant.

Trans-Caspian gas pipeline project envisages the laying of the pipeline with capacity to 22 billion cubic meters through the Caspian seabed. However, the construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline now is connected with the problem of unresolved status of the Caspian Sea. The discussions have been held for 10 years.

Moreover, the option to connect the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline to the existing pipeline SCP (South Caucasus Pipeline), which would transport Turkmen gas to Turkey and further connected to the Nabucco is inappropriate due to insufficient throughput capacity of SCP (20 billion cubic meters) for a total throughput of the Azerbaijani and Turkmen gas.

However, a positive factor in transportation of Turkmen fuel to Europe today is of great interest in such supplies, shown from both sides - the Turkmen and the European ones.

German energy concern RWE actively assists to transport Turkmen gas to European markets. It is one of the six shareholders of the Nabucco project. In the first half of 2010 it intends to conclude an agreement with Turkmenistan on gas supplies for this project. Last year, the parties signed an agreement on cooperation in exploration and development in the Turkmen sector of the Caspian Sea.

GDF Suez can become the next major European company involved in gas projects in Turkmenistan. This French company last year expressed a desire to become the seventh shareholder in Nabucco project. In case of such events the company can bring benefit to the project and help to ensure it with additional resource base.

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