EU afraid of loosing Turkmenistan as energy partner

Azerbaijan, Baku, Nov. 29 / Trend, V. Zhavoronkova/

The European Union (EU) is committed to the intensification of energy relations with the Caspian States, in particular Turkmenistan, as it is afraid of loosing "the game of possible gas export" from this region, German expert on Central Asia Michael Laubsch said.

The European Union is ready to hold dialogue with Turkmenistan on key reforms that will support the country in realizing its goals in the name of democratic, economic and social development, the President of the European Commission (EC) Jose Manuel Barroso said in his letter addressed to the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhammadov, local media reported on Monday.

The letter was not officially published by either EU or EC, but the relations between the commission and Turkmenistan were not publicized in the past, too, the head of the German non-governmental organization ETG (Eurasian Transition Group) Laubsch told Trend in a telephone conversation from Berlin.

"If Barroso has really sent this letter to Berdimuhammadov it again gives the signal that the EU and the EC want to intensify energy relations with the Caspian states," Laubsch added.

According to Laubsch, this short letter by Barroso probably has something to do with recent negotiations and new gas exports from Turkmenistan to China.

Last week Turkmenistan's President paid an official visit to China during which the two countries signed a new agreement on additional gas supplies via the Turkmenistan-China pipeline.

The contract provides for an increase in the gas supplies for 25 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year and it will bring the total volume up to 65 billion cubic meters of gas per year taking into account previous arrangements.

Laubsch believes the EC in Brussels might be a little bit scared at the moment that Turkmenistan "is leaving the negotiation table with the EU and is now focusing more on its eastern neighbors".

Turkmenistan is one of the major partners in the field of energy security for the EU. In particular, the Nabucco project envisages a gas supply from the Caspian region and Middle East to the EU countries which will enable it to diversify the sources of supply of raw materials.
Turkmenistan could join this project thanks to the development to lay an undersea Trans-Caspian gas pipeline to the coast of Azerbaijan.

At the moment, Turkmen gas is exported in three ways - China, Iran and Russia. In addition to the European direction, Ashgabat attaches great importance to accelerating the project to build the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India transnational pipeline.

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