Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 12 /Trend/
Seymur Aliyev, an expert of Trend International News Agency
Today the European Union has adopted a mandate to negotiate a legally binding treaty between the EU, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to build a Trans Caspian Pipeline System. This decision could give a boost to a new phase of political and economic relations both in the Caspian region and in whole Europe and Central Asia.
Trans-Caspian gas pipeline will deliver Turkmen gas to European markets via Azerbaijan. This will enable Turkmenistan to diversify its energy supplies, Europe to significantly strengthen its energy security and Azerbaijan to further increase its importance in the region due to transit of gas. It should be noted that Baku has repeatedly stated its readiness to provide its well-developed gas transportation infrastructure for the transit of Turkmen gas.
Today Turkmenistan, who has the fourth largest reserves of natural gas (according to BP, 8 trillion cubic meters), is actively pursuing a policy to diversify supplies. Particularly, this question became urgent after a sharp decline in the volume of gas purchases by Russian Gazprom several years ago. Over recent years, Turkmenistan has achieved significant results in the export of its own energy resources. Ashgabat built pipelines to China and Iran, considers the possibility of building a gas pipeline to India and Pakistan via Afghanistan.
However, the most effective and solvent market in need of gas is still Europe. In order to get into the European market, Turkmenistan only has one way via the Caspian Sea and Azerbaijan through the Southern Gas Corridor.
It is expected that Russia and Iran will strongly oppose the implementation of the Trans-Caspian project. The first basis will be the unresolved status of the Caspian Sea, as well as the environmental component of the pipeline project. But it should be noted that Azerbaijan has about 5,000 kilometers of different pipelines in the Caspian. Moreover, Russia itself has built, is building and plans to build gas pipelines via the Black Sea and Baltic Sea.
This is explained by the fact that Russia and Iran are not only buying gas in Turkmenistan, but they are or want to be suppliers of gas to European markets. Today Russia accounts for a significant amount of natural gas imports of the European Union. Naturally, Moscow intends to maintain a monopoly on it, offering more new supply routes for its gas to Europe. These include the North Stream, South Stream and others.
In turn, difficult political relations between Europe and Iran give Tehran a chance to prevent increasing EU's energy security, by blocking the project.
However, the decisive importance in this matter belongs to Turkmenistan.
And positive moves in this regard are observed. President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov recently frequently stated that his country is ready to supply its gas to Europe. In addition, Turkmenistan has already started building the East-West pipeline, which will deliver energy resources from the gas-rich eastern provinces to the shore of the Caspian Sea. It can be the basis for a new infrastructure to delivery Turkmen gas to Europe via Azerbaijan.
Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, with a length of 300 kilometers, will be laid from the Turkmen coast of the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan, where it will be connected to the Southern Gas Corridor. Talks between Turkmenistan and the European Union and other countries on the construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline have been conducted since late 1990s.