Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, May 4
By Huseyn Hasanov - Trend:
The European Union is already aiming in the medium-term at the imports of natural gas from the Caspian region, particularly from Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.
In this regard, the work has become markedly more brisk around the 'Southern Gas Corridor' project, which can also include the project for construction of the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline.
The matter rests here in laying pipes under the Caspian Sea from the city of Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan to the city of Sangachal on the coast of Absheron peninsula in Azerbaijan.
The EU is obviously seeking to cut its dependence on Russia in energy supplies. Maros Sefcovic, the vice president of the European Commission, has recently said in an interview with Reuters that the EU expects to start receiving natural gas from Turkmenistan in 2019.
It is expected that by that time the gas transportation infrastructure linking Azerbaijan with European customers, such as Greece, Albania and Italy, will be ready as well. Thus, Azerbaijan plays the role of not only supplier, but also a transit country, and for the country this is additional revenue.
Turkmenistan, which has the fourth largest natural gas reserves in the world, is a key player in the energy market in the Caspian region and Central Asia. Against the backdrop of falling purchases of this type of fuel by Russia, Ashgabat is interested in finding new markets, particularly in Europe.
And the pipeline route to Europe through the Caspian Sea and Azerbaijan is in this aspect considered one of the most attractive. To implement this project the RSK Environment Ltd. has already carried out tentative environmental studies under an order from the World Bank. Its results will be revealed before late 2015.
Ashgabat last week hosted the multilateral talks on the Trans-Caspian project. Top managers of the fuel and energy sectors of the interested parties attended the talks.
A declaration was even signed for the development of cooperation in the field of energy among Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey and the EU.
The document was signed by the Director of the Turkmen State Agency for Management and Use of Hydrocarbon Resources Yagshygeldy Kakayev, Azerbaijan's Energy Minister Natig Aliyev, Turkey's Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Taner Yildiz and the European Commission's Vice President for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic.
The declaration stresses the importance of sustainable energy in the modern world and special urgency for global energy security. This approach is based on the principles of equal and fair access to the energy sources and available supplying of the energy resources to the international energy markets.
International relations in the energy sector must be carried out primarily on the basis of diversifying the sources, supply routes and energy sales markets, the participants of Ashgabat's meeting stressed.
The sides consider it necessary to intensify joint work on the preparation of the draft framework agreement on the natural gas supply from Turkmenistan to Europe.
Moreover, the sides agreed to establish a working group at the level of deputy ministers of structures (or equal in status), responsible for the energy sectors of Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey and the EU to consider the organizational, legal, commercial, technical and other issues related to the natural gas supply from Turkmenistan to Europe.
The sides agreed to offer Georgia, as a transit country, to take part in the upcoming meetings.
As it is known, Brussels is preparing the ground for holding the negotiations among Ashgabat and the concerned oil and gas companies. The declaration states that the two sides stress the importance of the initiative to establish the Caspian Development Corporation.
The sides emphasize the need to develop a constructive dialogue on the formation of the transport infrastructure required to ensure reliable natural gas supplies from Turkmenistan to Europe. According to the declaration, the sides stress that this transportation infrastructure will be built in strict compliance with international norms and standards, including those that relate to the accident prevention and environmental protection.
The Trans-Caspian project could become a part of TANAP project (Trans-Anatolian Pipeline).
Baku and Ankara are its active initiators. Azerbaijan expressed its readiness to deliver its territory, transit opportunities and infrastructure for the project implementation.
Edited by CN
Trend commentator, Huseyn Hasanov