Baku, Azerbaijan, May 15
By Maksim Tsurkov - Trend:
Recently, we have witnessed how actively the European Union works towards the realization of the project of building Trans-Caspian pipeline, through which Turkmen gas can reach Europe. The only question is what risks are Europe ready to take in order to achieve the successful implementation of this project?
Brussels interest in Turkmen gas is not surprising. The EU needs large volumes of gas and Ashgabat could provide them. Currently, the matter rests in Turkmenistan's readiness to supply 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually to Europe, and such volumes are quite able to satisfy the EU, which seeks alternative sources.
At the same time, in the presence of great interest and will of the parties, a large number of practical issues remains unresolved. So, it is still unclear who exactly will build the pipeline, and most importantly, by whose money.
The European Commission proposes the creation of a consortium, which would consist of the leading European companies and directly control the process of implementation of the project, and would be engaged in the investment part as well. However, the recent international economic trends may hinder the willingness of companies to take certain financial risks.
Another factor that can significantly delay the implementation of the project is the problem of the unresolved status of the Caspian Sea. This is another issue on which the EU will have to show firmness and determination.
As for Azerbaijan, the country fully supports the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline project and is ready to transit Turkmen gas. But it is another matter that for present, Baku is not so interested in spending money on the Trans-Caspian pipeline.
Currently, Azerbaijan is implementing the Southern Gas Corridor project it initiated by itself. Baku is fully focused on the Southern Gas Corridor. In general, Azerbaijan in fact is doing more than others to provide Europe with the gas alternative to Russia. This is while for the present, the Trans-Caspian pipeline can be considered as a prospective project.
Naturally, certain work has already been done. The parties have agreed to create a permanent working group that will consist of the representatives of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, EU and Turkey and will be engaged in working out the issues of Turkmen gas transportation to Europe.
Yet, resolving of the rest of issues will require much more time, while Brussels doesn't have it. Europe needs to resolve the issues and move from words to deeds here and now.
Edited by CN
Maksim Tsurkov is Trend Agency's staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @MaksimTsurkov