Expert: China’s offer to take maximum of Turkmen gas realistic

Oil&Gas Materials 18 September 2013 17:21 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, Sept. 18 / Trend A.Badalova /

China's offer to take as much Turkmen gas as possible is realistic and attractive and does not have evident political implications, Professor of International Relations at the American University of Paris, Terence Murphy said.

"Concerning China's energy demands and the ability to import Turkmen gas, I suggest that China needs all the natural gas it can get access," Murphy wrote Trend via e-mail on Wednesday.

According to Murphy, China, unlike Russia, has a pragmatic energy policy unrelated to historical geopolitical interests in Eurasia. Considered from a geopolitical perspective, Turkmenistan has every interest in developing energy ties with China, according to Murphy.

"Abundant Turkmen gas reserves and Chinese financing can only enhance the energy ties between the two countries," Murphy stressed.

In recent years China has become a key consumer of Turkmen gas and counts for increasing the annual purchases to 65 billion cubic meters of gas.

Turkmenistan is one of the key players in the gas market in Caspian region and Central Asia. At this stage, consumers of Turkmen natural fuel are China, Iran and Russia.

Last week Chinese President Xi Jinping concluded his visit to Central Asia. During the visit Xi Jinping signed a number of agreements on the construction of Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline, in particular with Ashgabat. Chinese president also participated in inauguration of the strategically important Galkynysh gas field in Turkmenistan. This field will be the main source of gas which will go from Turkmenistan to China.

Turkmenistan holds the fourth place in the world for the reserves of natural gas and the country searches new markets in Europe and South Asia. According to BP, Turkmenistan's proved gas reserves amounted to 17.5 trillion cubic meters in early 2013. Gas production in the country increased by 7.8 percent and amounted to 64.4billion cubic meters in 2012.

With regard to the transportation of Turkmen gas to European direction, Murphy stressed that in order to deliver it, a Trans-Caspian gas pipeline is necessary.

Murphy believes that Russia's opposition to this project is still an obstacle for its implementation.

"As Russia has a far greater interest in having continued access to Turkmen gas through its historical energy ties with this country, it is highly unlikely that Russia would easily accede to a Trans-Caspian pipeline," Murphy said.

The Trans-Caspian gas pipeline is planned to be laid from the Turkmen coast of the Caspian Sea to the Azerbaijani coast. The pipeline's length will hit 300 kilometers.

Negotiations on the construction of the pipeline between Turkmenistan, the EU and other countries have been held since late 1990s.

The negotiation process has been intensified after the European Union delivered a mandate to start negotiations on the preparation of an agreement between the EU, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on the Trans-Caspian project in September 2011. However, Iran and Russia later expressed their negative attitude towards the project. Tehran and Moscow believe that the construction of the pipeline may harm the ecology of the Caspian Sea.