Turkmenistan’s gas more likely to go to Europe than transported by TAPI pipeline

Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 11 / Trend V. Zhavoronkova/

Europe remains the priority gas export direction for Turkmenistan, Russian expert on Central Asia, a member of Trend Expert Council Stanislav Pritchin believes.

Turkmenistan has a number of export options for its gas. The country is reach in hydrocarbons especially in gas and stands on the fourth place in the world with its 8 trillion cubic meters of proven gas reserves in early 2011, according to BP. This Central Asian country already exports its gas to Russia and China, and involved in proposed projects, such as Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline (TAPI). Turkmenistan is also considered as one of potential suppliers for Nabucco gas pipeline project within the Southern gas corridor.

Nabucco is designed to transport gas from the Caspian Region and Middle East to the EU countries.

"For Turkmenistan the project, which will transport gas to Europe remains the priority and has more chances to be implemented rather than TAPI," Pritchin told Trend over the phone from Moscow.

Turkmenistan has already made some steps forward in the issue of transporting its gas to Europe as well as negotiations in this regard are being held, expert added.
The volume of gas, which is being produced in Turkmenistan, is sufficient only for existing export routes to Russia and China, he said.

Expert believes Turkmenistan will need new transportation routes if predicted gas reserves of South Yoloten field are proved.

Last year an independent British auditor Gaffney, Cline & Associates said South Yolotan field in Turkmenistan holds up to 21.2 trillion cubic meters of gas.

TAPI gas pipeline project has weak and strong sides, Pritchin believes. Among the strong sides is the fact, that the potential pipeline is aimed to transport gas to a region, where it may find serious consumers, he said. The weak side is instability of the region which the pipeline will pass through, Pritchin added.

"The situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan with its serious political and economic risks, may question the commercial reasonability of TAPI pipeline project," he said.

Pritchin believes, even if the situation in Afghanistan becomes stable, there always will be some forces which will use this route for their own interest. Expert said nobody will be able to guarantee the security of TAPI pipeline.

The situation with Iran also affects the movements in the implementation of the project, he said.

"Iran creates negative background for all expensive projects of the region at the moment and each of them has the possibility of being frozen," Pritchin added.

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