Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct.25 / Trend, H.Hasanov /
Full restoration of the "strategic" partnership in relations between Russia and Turkmenistan in gas sphere is not topic of discussion yet, experts said. They were commenting on the results of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's working visit (Oct. 21-22) to Turkmenbashi.
The day before the meeting, Turkmen President Gurbangulu Berdimuhammedov drew attention to the fact that "global financial crisis has slackened the pace of joint projects" with Russia in this field. The next summit, as it is known, was initiated by the Turkmen side.
"It's obvious that Moscow replied frostily to Ashgabat's offer to increase amount of gas supplies to Russia, referring to lower demand in the European market, which it can meet itself at this stage," an economist said over telephone on condition of anonymity.
At the same time, Berdimuhammadov noted that before Gazprom actively contracted amount of fuel in other states of the Caspian region with consideration of prospects, while drastically reducing gas imports from Turkmenistan. Gas supplies hit about 40 billion cubic meters of gas per year in 2008 and just ten billion in 2010. According to preliminary information, this amount will be kept next year.
Another agreement also points to the stagnation. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said in his interview to the Kommersant newspaper that the sides have agreed on the major issue - to freeze the Caspian gas pipeline project (to Russia along the Caspian Sea coast through Kazakhstan). However, since signing a relevant agreement in Moscow in 2007 (with the participation of the third side - the transit Kazakhstan), this project was in the "frozen condition" de-facto - mostly due to loss of interest of Moscow in it.
"Since then the project has not made progress despite efforts of Ashgabat, who were speaking about great prospects," the expert said. "The Caspian project targeted medium-term goals to be ready for increased demand on world markets, boom of which is expected in the coming years."
At the same time, the West paid attention to the fact that Moscow suddenly believed in the prospect of another gas pipeline project, promising its participation in the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India). Experts are too suspicious about implementation of this project since 1990s. It is being observed on the background of both uneasy situation in Afghanistan, and regular disagreements between New Delhi and Islamabad.
"This probably much more indicates to Russia's desire of geopolitical presence in the region, particularly in Afghanistan. It is hard to believe the actual steps to follow it," the Western observer, involved in the Turkmen projects said stressing the absence of Gazprom's representatives at the talks in Turkmenbashi, who until recently were keen on competing projects on gas transportation to India from Iran.
Apparently, Rosneft's intention to join the development of the Turkmen sector of the Caspian, which needs substantial investment and where ITERA already operates jointly with the Russian Zarubezhneft, can be regarded as the most remarkable move in Russia- Turkmenistan bilateral relations.
The rest plans are basically of "contractor" character. In particular, the Russian state energy holding Inter Rao was interested in the construction of gas power plants in Turkmenistan, for which the Turkmen treasury is expected to pay.
Similar interest was observed even before. Stroytransgaz built the Turkmen section of the pipeline to China, ITERA put into operation in Turkmenistan the Central Karakum - Yylanly station gas pipeline, which enabled to pump crude to the Central Asia-Center gas main, transporting the Turkmen gas to Russia. In accordance to the contracts, Turkmengaz state concern is charged to pay off the expenses.
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