Baku, Azerbaijan, Aug. 3
By Elmira Tariverdiyeva - Trend:
Turkmenistan implements large-scale preparation for diversification of gas supplies, in particular in the European direction. It will be necessary to create the missing Trans-Caspian segment for that and use the opportunities of the Southern Gas Corridor initiated by Azerbaijan.
Finally, Ashgabat decided to do what Europe has been waiting many years for - to begin to supply gas, which will be able to compensate for most of the Russian gas that the West has many problems with.
The East-West gas pipeline, which is under construction in Turkmenistan with a length of more than 800 kilometers and a capacity of 30 billion cubic meters a year, will bring together major gas reserves, create conditions for the export of Turkmen fuel to the world markets in either direction, the newspaper "Neutral Turkmenistan" wrote earlier.
In other words, today, Ashgabat builds the infrastructure that will carry gas from the richest gas fields, through the territory of the country to the coast of the Caspian Sea. It is clear that the next step of the construction of gas infrastructure will become the construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, which will become a part of the Southern Gas Corridor to Europe, which will combine in itself the Azerbaijani and Turkmen gas.
The West has long been waiting for this step, lobbying for the idea of the Trans-Caspian Pipeline as a part of the Southern Gas Corridor, hoping to take away the convenient instrument of pressure on Europe, that is, Russian gas from the Kremlin's hands.
However, previously, Turkmenistan wasn't ready for an open confrontation with Russia and to start major gas deliveries to the West. Meanwhile, selling almost all of its gas to China, Ashgabat found highly risky, as both the single customer, and the single seller meant constant dependence. And today, Ashgabat has an opportunity to get away from that dependence on the buyer, and to diversify its supplies to the West.
The gas cooperation between Russia and Turkmenistan, which has in recent years undergone a major change, once again convinced Ashgabat of the need for speedy diversification of its supplies.
Recently, the Turkmen government's website has said Russia's Gazprom became an "insolvent partner" and hasn't paid its gas debts since early 2015, due to the continuing global economic crisis and economic sanctions imposed by Western countries.
Previously, Ashgabat preferred to sell its gas to Europe through Russia, which allowed it to maintain good relations with Moscow, however, Russia has significantly reduced gas purchases from Turkmenistan in recent years.
It was purchasing over 40 billion cubic meters of gas per year in 2007-2008, but Deputy Chairman of the Management Committee of Russian company Gazprom, Alexander Medvedev said that the company will buy only 4 billion cubic meters.
All these factors pushed Turkmenistan to cease this disadvantageous cooperation and get direct access to western markets, which will be possible with long-awaited construction of Trans-Caspian Pipeline that will deliver blue fuel to the west through the bottom of the Caspian Sea. All the more so, the corresponding infrastructure - the Southern Gas Corridor - will be created in coming years.
Elmira Tariverdiyeva is Trend Agency's staff writer, follow her on Twitter @EmmaTariver