Trans-Caspian gas pipeline is best option for Central Asian energy link to EU

Azerbaijan, Baku, April 11 (Trend, V. Zhavoronkova)

After more than a yearlong lull when compressed natural gas exports were actively examined as a gas transportation option from Turkmenistan to Europe, the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline has again become a topic of serious discussions, according to U.S. energy expert Alexandros Petersen.
EU-Central Asia ministerial talks were held in Tashkent last week.
The sides explored the possible implementation of a new EU-Central Asia partnership strategy and other issues, including, according to an earlier official Turkmen report, Turkmenistan-EU energy cooperation.
This cooperation envisions gas exports from Turkmenistan to the EU in the future through a series of energy projects, such as the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, which is designed to link Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. The about 300-kilometer pipeline will be laid from the Turkmen Caspian shoreline to Azerbaijan where it will connect with South Energy Corridor export routes.
"We should expect these discussions to be more productive than the previous ones as they are being conducted straight after the visit of European Commission Chief Barroso to Ashgabad when the Turkmen government showed its strict adherence to the South Energy Corridor concept," Petersen, the Woodrow Wilson Center's adviser for European Energy Security Issues, told Trend.
The fact that this project has been examined again is positive, according to the expert. It is not technically difficult and "beyond any doubt, it is the best option for the Turkmen-Central Asian energy link to Azerbaijan and, finally, to the EU."
According to Petersen, Russia's and Iran's statements concerning the Caspian Sea's status, which has not still be determined, are not a barrier to the implementation of the Trans-Caspian project, which only requires an agreement by Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.
To launch the project, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan should settle the issue of disputable fields, according to the expert.
"However, we should remember that the issue of the Serdar-Kapaz disputable field remains urgent, and that's why it is nice to see that talks over settlement of the problem have been intensified lately," the expert said.
According to the expert, the EU should have involved a high-level mediator to draw attention to Kapaz in order to reach a final resolution of the dispute.

Discord between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan has arisen because of the field).
Kapaz, discovered by Azerbaijani geologists in the Soviet era, is not being explored. Nevertheless, Azerbaijan has more than once proposed to explore the field jointly with Turkmenistan.
Baku is confident that Turkmenistan will benefit from exploring Kapaz jointly with Azerbaijan. This is explained primarily by the availability of the country's powerful construction and hydrocarbon transportation infrastructure. There is no such infrastructure in Turkmenistan.
Azerbaijan estimates the field's extractable reserves at 50 million tons of oil. The field was discovered by Azerbaijani oil workers in the Soviet era. In the Soviet times, it was called an "intermediary" due to it being located at the median line between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.
The South Corridor projects include Nabucco, Trans-Adriatic Gas Pipeline, White Stream, and the Interconnected Turkey-Greece-Italy.

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