European Union comes to grips with its energy security
Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb.23
By Aygun Badalova - Trend:
The European Union, which suffers from lack of alternative sources of gas supplies, has decided to come to grips with the embodiment of its goal on their diversification, having expressed willingness to speed up the conclusion of agreements with such countries as Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.
In particular, as early as 2015, the EU intends to sign Memoranda of Understanding with the two countries, which should become a part of a package to improve the "stability" of gas supply to Europe, according to Spiegel Online.
"The EU will use all the foreign policy tools in order to strengthen the strategic energy partnership with producer countries and transit countries," said Spiegel Online.
The EU is on time with making such steps. In 2016, construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) will begin, which will already be transporting Azerbaijani gas to the European markets in 2019. Gas supplies from Azerbaijan will open a new energy era for the EU, as it will be provided with not only a new alternative source, but a completely new route of energy supplies.
It should be noted that the Azerbaijani-initiated large and long-term Southern Gas Corridor project within which these supplies will be carried out, was worked out by taking into account EU's diversification interests.
In the future it is possible to get other suppliers involved as well, Turkmenistan for example. The capacity of TAP, which will initially transport 10 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas per year, can be doubled if new volumes emerge.
Turkmenistan's total export volume can reach 160-170 billion cubic meters of commercial gas per year with the possibility of increasing by 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year, according to the country's Ministry of Oil and Gas Industry and Mineral Resources.
The natural gas production in Turkmenistan exceeded 76 billion cubic meters, while the export of this fuel surpassed 45 billion cubic meters in 2014. The country plans to produce over 80 billion cubic meters of commercial gas in 2015.
Turkmenistan ranks fourth in the world for the volume of natural gas reserve. This is while the reserve of the certain fields such as Galkynysh and Yashlar make up 26.2 trillion cubic meters.
Involving Turkmen gas in the Southern Gas Corridor project is not easy. Building infrastructure for its transportation to the European markets, namely the Trans-Caspian pipeline, which will stretch through the Caspian Sea, is associated with some difficulties, namely, the unresolved status of the Caspian Sea.
However, at present, there are prerequisites for such a prospect. All concerned sides have political will to implement the project. Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan have well-founded statements that the Trans-Caspian pipeline implementation refers only to these two countries.
Moreover, Turkmenistan has some seven billion cubic meters of free gas due to Gazprom's recent decision to abandon the purchase of Central Asian gas, and in particular the Turkmen gas.
It is not ruled out that this decision of Russia prompted the EU to finally take the matter into its own hands and start taking certain steps, that it needs itself, first of all.
After all, Azerbaijan has already made its way to the European gas market, while Turkmenistan, in fact, has a real market for its "extra" gas volumes, namely - China.
The only side that can be a loser here is the EU. And the sooner it starts operating, the better is for its energy security. Its increase is stressed by the EU today as a priority.
Aygun Badalova is Trend Agency's staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AygunBadalova