Turkey to contribute to output of Turkmen gas to Asian markets

Turkey to contribute to output of Turkmen gas to Asian markets

Azerbaijan, Baku, March 1 /Trend/

Ellada Khankishiyeva, Trend Analytical Centre Head

Turkey will be an important energy partner of Turkmenistan in the energy security of the region. Ankara has always expressed an interest in the delivery of Turkmen gas to Europe through the Caspian Sea and Turkey. Moreover, Turkey is ready to assist in finding alternative export routes for Turkmen gas.

The partnership that meets the mutual interests, acted a key moment during the visit of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov to the Republic of Turkey (28 February-1 March). Turkey became the first country which was visited by Turkmenistan's newly elected president, signifying further strengthening of bilateral relations between the two eastern countries. The fact that Turkey was the first country to recognise the state independence of Turkmenistan in 1991 played an important role in this visit.

During the visit both sides discussed the need to continue work on the development of regional projects aimed at the reconstruction and development of socio-economic areas of Afghanistan.

'In this regard, the Turkish side expressed its interest in major projects including the gas pipeline Turkmenistan - Afghanistan - Pakistan - India (TAPI) project, an increase in the supply of Turkmen electricity to Afghanistan, as well as the development of transport infrastructure projects and also stated support for these projects', the joint declaration stated.

Thus, Ankara confirmed an interest in the TAPI gas pipeline project which will extend in the opposite direction from Turke, and in which Turkish energy companies have no material interest.

There are new opportunities for the supply of raw materials to Europe since the start of production of natural gas on the Turkmen shelf of the Caspian Sea Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov said in an interview with Turkish media on the eve of his visit to Ankara.

The construction of a natural gas pipeline across the Caspian Sea and connecting it to a trans-national project of Nabucco by transit through Azerbaijan is being considered as a priority option.

The original concept of the Nabucco gas pipeline with a capacity of 31 billion cubic meters of gas per year covers the territory of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Austria. However, the fact that Nabucco will lose its strategic importance due to the change of its original concept and turn around into a smaller pipe than originally planned, made Turkmenistan to choose the alternative routes for gas supply to world markets.

Turkmenistan, ranking fourth by largest natural gas reserves in the world, has increased its production volumes. According to BP, Turkmenistan produced 42.4 billion cubic meters of gas in 2010 compared to 36.4 billion cubic meters in 2009 and the production volume increased by 40 6 per cent in 2011 compared to 2010.
By giving consent to the rapid implementation of the TAPI project, Turkey confirms its political will to take an active part in Afghanistan's peaceful restoration together with the international community and make systematic efforts to revive Afghanistan which is striving for a peaceful, stable and independent development. As is known, the TAPI project implementation will bring real benefits economically and socially to Afghanistan and in particular the creation of a new industrial infrastructure with employment. Moreover, the funds for the transit of Turkmen natural gas to Afghanistan will be a significant source of revenue to the budget.

The design capacity of the TAPI gas pipeline is up to 33 billion cubic meters of gas per year. Buyers are the gas companies of Pakistan and India. The project is promoted by the Asian Development Bank. Besides the Dovletabat field, the largest field Galkynysh, developed in Turkmenistan may be a resource base. The length of the pipe may reach 1735 kilometres.

However, Turkey will have political and economic benefits expressed in attracting Turkish companies to the construction work, from the building of the TAPI gas pipeline. It is known that Turkish firms are the largest private investors in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The cost of the projects implemented by Turkish firms in these countries is estimated at billions of dollars.

Turkey is also one of the largest trade partners of Turkmenistan and a number of major projects, including the construction of the facilities of the industrial infrastructure, namely social and cultural are being implemented with the participation of Turkish companies. More than 600 Turkish companies are registered in such priority areas of the economy as trade and investment, construction, energy, textile and the processing industries and others operate over Turkmenistan.

Turkish companies control over 1270 investment projects, more than 1200 projects worth over $15 billion and 26 worth over two billion euros and 26 projects worth over 56 billion manat.

In an interview with the Turkish media on the eve of the visit, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov emphasised that despite the global financial and economic crisis, Turkmenistan provided Turkish partners with an opportunity to actively participate in the implementation of several large scale projects. He said that these companies felt confident in the land of their ancestors and take an active part in the realisation of Turkmenistan's socio-economic development programme. A number of successful joint projects testify to this.

"We look forward to a long-term partnership based on openness," Mr Berdimuhamedov said.

So the proximity of the two countries' interests will become the impetus to implement the TAPI project. Moreover, a principal agreement on the Turkmen gas cost was reached with Pakistan. This will be signed soon. At present, the principle of forming an international consortium is being discussed. The issue of financing the project is being resolved.

The lack of security guarantees for the construction and further exploitation of the gas pipeline, especially in the Afghan area is a major obstacle for the project. This will be eliminated through the joint efforts of each side interested in building the pipeline.

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