Trans-Caspian pipeline’s construction to increase tensions between Russia and EU

Baku, Azerbaijan, March 5

By Aygun Badalova - Trend:

The construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline (TCP), which is proposed to transport Turkmen gas to the European markets, would increase tensions between Russia and the EU, Andrej Tibold, analyst at Eurasia Energy Observer believes.

"The TCP's construction has always been a red line for Russia. Therefore its construction would be regarded as a provocation and would only increase tensions between Russia and the EU," Tibold tols Trend.

At the same time Tibold said, that the EU is intensifying its efforts for Turkmen gas in view of its worsening political relations with Russia.

"The EU would like to decrease its dependency on Russian gas," he added.

European countries are strongly dependent on Russian gas supplies. Reducing this dependence and diversification of its supply source is now a key energy objective for the EU. With this perspective the European Commission has made the Southern Gas Corridor, which envisages the transportation of gas from the Caspian region to European markets, its priority.

This large project aims at diversifying the routes and sources of energy supply that will enhance energy security of Europe. At the initial stage, the gas to be produced as part of the second phase of development of Azerbaijani gas condensate Shah Deniz field is considered as the main source for the Southern Gas Corridor projects. At a later stage, other sources may join the project. Turkmenistan, particularly, is regarded as a potential source for this project.

The Trans-Caspian pipeline project, which may be implemented as a part of the Southern Gas Corridor, is regarded as the optimal option for delivering Turkmen resources to European markets. The project envisages the laying of around 300 kilometers long gas pipeline under the Caspian to the shores of Azerbaijan. Further Turkmen can be transported to Turkey which has mutual borders with European countries.

Russia and Iran have always spoken against the Trans-Caspian pipeline due to ecological issues during the pipeline's construction. The unresolved status of the Caspian Sea has been regarded as the main factor hindering the implementation of the project.

The official position of Ashgabad regarding the project is that the consent of the countries whose territories are involved into the project is enough to build a pipeline. Azerbaijan has repeatedly expressed readiness to provide its territory, transit facilities and infrastructure for realizing the project.

Earlier this week the European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said that Europe intends to find a technical and legal basis for the Turkmen gas supply via Azerbaijan.

German media reported Feb. 23 that the EU intends to sign memorandums of understanding with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan as part of a package to improve the "stability" of providing Europe with gas in 2015. The EU intends to work out this package by 2016.

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Aygun Badalova is Trend Agency's staff journalist, follow her on Twitter:@AygunBadalova

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