Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 21 / Trend V. Zhavoronkova /
The upcoming visit of Uzbek President Islam Karimov to Belgium testifies to the fact that Uzbekistan may become a participant of the South Corridor, Russian expert on Central Asia and member of Trend Expert Council Stanislav Pritchin, told Trend.
Karimov plans to pay an official visit to Belgium on Jan. 24. It is planned that energy resources will be one of the topics to be discussed with Karimov in Brussels. He is expected to meet with the president of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso.
Pritchin, researcher of the Moscow State University, said that at present the European Union is interested in cooperation with Karimov.
According to BP, as of 2009 Uzbekistan ranks second in the CIS for natural gas production after Russia.
The EU has a partner in Central Asia - Turkmenistan. It is ready to transport its energy resources to Europe. It is planned that Turkmenistan will fill the Nabucco pipeline if this project is implemented.
Nabucco gas pipeline will deliver gas from the Caspian region and the Middle East to the EU countries. The construction of the pipeline - worth 7.9 billion euros - is scheduled for 2012. The first deliveries are expected to be made in 2015.
Nabucco is a pipeline of the South Corridor. It is a priority for the EU energy projects, which aims to diversify routes and sources of energy supplies by increasing the energy security of the EU. Besides the Nabucco project, the South Corridor includes the Trans-Adriatic Gas Pipeline (TAP), White Stream, and ITGI.
He said that if the South Corridor operates, then Uzbekistan may be a resource base for it in the future.
Natural gas reserves in Turkmenistan may not be enough to fill all existing projects, including Chinese direction, Russian direction, Iran, and the planned gas pipeline Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI), the expert said.
"Gas production in Turkmenistan may not be enough at the current level," Pritchin told Trend over the phone from Moscow.
It is necessary to develop additional gas fields in Turkmenistan and in general to expand the resource base to realize all planned projects, the expert said.
He said that if Uzbekistan joins the South Corridor, it will be a very serious step for Europe, so the EU is working for the future.
"If the Turkmen direction of gas supplies to Europe is launched and a real prospect of Uzbek direction in the future appears, it will seriously expand Europe's influence on the region in the context of long-term geopolitical interests," Pritchin said.