Trans-Caspian Gas pipeline will be an inexpensive and quick gas transportation route to the EU: Interview with EU Commissar on Energy

Trans-Caspian Gas pipeline will be an inexpensive and quick gas transportation route to the EU: Interview with EU Commissar on Energy

Azerbaijan, Baku / Trend / The Caspian gas-producing countries are actively involved in the diversification of export routes. TransCaspian gas pipeline can be built in the Caspian, Russia lobbies the establishment of the South Stream, whereas Iran can set up the transportation of Turkmen gas to Turkey via its territory. Gas export to the Caspian is directed mainly at EU countries, where the demand for fuel has increased considerably.

Trend 's interview with the Europen Union Commissar on Energy, Andris Piebalgs

Question: What are the prospects for the implementation of the TransCaspian gas pipeline and NABUCCO with Russia's aspiration of implementing the South Stream project?

Answer: The potential of the Caspian region for EU energy security of supply is of paramount strategic importance. Intensifying dialogue and relations with Central Asian countries are identified as key priorities for EU External Energy policy in the Energy Package issued in January 2007. At the same time countries in the region are also interested in securing energy supplies in a stable market environment and attracting investments.

Therefore we attach great priority to the development of a trans-Caspian pipeline which would be an inexpensive and quick gas transportation route to the EU.

At the same time we support all projects enhancing diversification of supply. With regard to the South Stream decision, this will increase the diversity in supply routes into the EU and will help to meet the rising demand for gas in Europe. However, at present, no detailed work has been done, in environmental, planning or engineering terms. In comparison, the Nabucco pipeline, which secures a better diversification of supply, is at a far more detailed and advanced stage of development. The Nabucco is at the end of its study phase and the construction works should begin by the end of 2008.

Question: In the case of the absence of agreements between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on the Caspian status, is the European Union prepared to contribute in talks amongst the countries on this issue for the rapid implementation of the TransCaspian gas pipeline? To what extent does the EU relate the agreement on the Caspian status among Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Iran and the construction of a new subsea oil and gas pipelines in the Caspian?

Answer: The Commission has on several occasions expressed its support for a trans-Caspian pipeline, and in fact, in terms of practical assistance, a trans-Caspian gas corridor is currently being analyzed by the Commission under its external technical assistance program via feasibility studies. The final results of this study should be available before the end of 2007.

Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan have begun a process of "rapprochement" which the Commission welcomes and supports. The Commission and Azerbaijan have close co-operation in the energy field under the umbrella of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in November 2006. The Commission and Turkmenistan have intensified contacts and a series of meetings are planned in the coming months where there would be an opportunity to deepen co-operation.

In line with the EU Strategy Paper on Central Asia (June 2007), the Commission stands ready to work with the countries in the region on the development of additional pipeline routes and thereby contribute to regional energy security and co-operation.

Question: Beginning from 1 July the European Union has liberalized the energy market and consumers of almost 30 countries can themselves select gas and electricity suppliers. What will change in reality in the market after such liberalization? Is it possible to expect a situation when the sellers rather than the consumers are the wining party?

Answer: Liberalisation and market integration are meant to promote a large range of different production methods and energy sources, ensuring security of supply and competitive energy prices for all European citizens.

The creation of a truly EU-wide energy market and its liberalisation are two closely linked objectives. We can not achieve market integration without liberalisation, nor can we ensure liberalised and competitive energy markets without bringing down the national segmentation. In view of the numerous dominant national 'champions', EU market integration is particularly necessary in order to stimulate competition and enhance consumers a choice. In this context, the relationship between company mergers and market integration is twofold: on one hand cross-border mergers may help to overcome national segmentation. On the other hand, when the EU markets are better integrated, the market concentration problems are minimised.

As well as providing consumers with a sustainable, secure and competitive energy supply in a liberalised market the EU has to work to safeguard their rights. Therefore the Commission has come up with a proposal for an Energy Consumers' Charter in order to set out consumers' rights in the areas of electricity and gas supply, including contracts, information, prices, dispute settlement and protection against unfair commercial practices. The Commission will take all necessary (regulatory) steps to make sure that there will be no "winners" or "losers" in an open energy market.

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