Weekly actual topics in Azerbaijan (Apr. 11-15)

Trans-Caspian transportation consortium must address some important issues, expert says

The idea of establishing the International Trans-Caspian Transportation Consortium by Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Georgia is to solve a number of important issues creating difficulties for the cargo transportation via the Trans-Caspian route, says Akif Mustafayev, TRACECA national secretary in Azerbaijan.

Mustafayev told Trend April 15 that the establishment of such a consortium clearly determines the cooperation among the member-states of the transport corridor project.

"I would like the establishment of this consortium to give concrete results and not to resemble other consortiums as part of other projects," he said. "For example, a consortium on the North-South project was established among Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia 10 years ago to accelerate the railway construction."

"However, this consortium did not work at all," he said. "As a result, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev expressed political will. The process moved forward thanks to the president's decisions."

"Another consortium on the East-West corridor was set up in Istanbul with the participation of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Kazakhstan in the third quarter of 2015," he said. "However, the results of its activity have not been seen yet."

Mustafayev said that the idea of establishing the Trans-Caspian consortium is to solve the problematic issues for the development of cargo transportation via the corridor.

"The consortium was established to address the issues concerning tariffs, existing bureaucratic delays, eliminate deficiencies in infrastructure, increase the container train speed and so on," he said.

"It is required for the established structure to hold regular meetings, sign documents and solve these problems," he said. "Then a concrete result would be seen. The legal base is available. So, the actions must be implemented."

The agreement to create the consortium has been recently signed in Baku by the railway ministries of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Kazakhstan.

Azerbaijani companies ADY Express and ACSC Logistics, Kazakhstan's KTZ Express and Georgia's Trans Caucasus Terminals LLC became members of the consortium.

The Supervisory Board included one representative from each member-company of the consortium, while Igbal Huseynov, deputy head of the Azerbaijan Railways CJSC, was elected chairman of the consortium's supervisory board.

Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Ukraine signed a protocol Jan. 14 to set competitive preferential tariffs for cargo transportation on the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route.

The Trans-Caspian International Transport Route runs from China to Europe through Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Ukraine.

The first test container train running on the Shihezi (China)-Dostyk-Aktau-Alat route arrived in the Baku International Sea Trade Port August 3, 2015.

Azerbaijan - only route taking Iranian gas to Europe

No doubt that any country's policies are affected by economic issues, especially the energy issues. Only a few countries don't use their energy resources to exert political pressure on the countries that depend on those resources.

Azerbaijan is one of the countries that don't use energy resources as a means of pressure. Azerbaijan's energy projects have no alternative in the world thanks to the country's transparent energy policy.

Today, Azerbaijan is successfully implementing important projects, TANAP being one of them. TANAP will play a great role in ensuring Europe's energy security after TAP is constructed.

There are also such countries in the region, as Iran, Russia and Turkmenistan, which are also important in terms of energy issues.

Iran, Russia and Turkmenistan have repeatedly stated their readiness to import natural gas to the world markets. Russia is currently the largest supplier of natural gas to Europe. But, evidently, the Europe-Russia relations push the EU to seek alternative sources of gas.

After lifting of sanctions against Tehran, Iran can become a new alternative gas source for the EU. And taking this into account, Federica Mogherini, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, will visit Tehran on Apr. 16.

Along with development of bilateral relations, Mogherini is also to discuss the Iranian gas supply to Europe.

Iranian authorities have repeatedly said the country is interested in exporting gas to Europe, but currently, the exports to neighboring countries is a priority. Moreover, Iran has said that the route through Turkey is the best one for exporting its gas to Europe.

Tehran will likely export gas to Europe as LNG. But currently, Iran doesn't have an LNG plant. The country started to build such a plant, called the Iran LNG, in 2007 and around $2.5 billion is needed to complete its construction.

There are also problems in transportation of Iranian gas to Europe through Turkey. First of all, there is no infrastructure needed for that purpose.

As much as 9.65 billion cubic meters of gas is exported to Turkey's domestic market a year via a gas pipeline running between Iran and Turkey. That pipeline has a capacity of 11.2 billion cubic meters of gas a year.

That means it will be necessary to create a new infrastructure for exporting Iran's gas through Turkey and additional investments will be needed for this.

Given that currently, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorist group is active in the region, the creation of a new infrastructure also seems unreal.

So, if Iran is going to start gas transportation to Europe, it will have to use the Southern Gas Corridor and TANAP, as they are the safest routes in the region.

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