Turkmenistan to examine underwater pipeline construction technologies

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has urged the scientists of the Academy of Sciences to develop innovative pipeline-building technologies for the Caspian Sea bed, the Turkmen government said.

The president said fundamental research must be conducted in Turkmen seismology. The international cooperation must be expanded in the field of seismology. New techniques and technologies must be introduced.

Turkmenistan also voiced the initiative to give concrete content to international efforts to preserve the unique natural resources of the Caspian Sea at the 66th session of UN General Assembly in New York City. A proposal was made to organize the Caspian Environment Forum as a permanent body to deal with environmental issues.

"The primary role in solving ecological problems of the Caspian Sea should be given to the scientists," he added. I think that it is necessary to develop multi-purpose long-term regional research programs aimed at developing new scientific approaches to protect the Caspian natural area."

Ashgabat is sure the construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline project has the right to a speedy implementation. It is the best variant for Turkmen gas exports to European market.

The EU, which is interested in diversifying energy flows, has already begun negotiating to conclude the agreement on this project between the EU, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. West and Turkmenistan think that the issue of laying a 300-kilometer pipeline through the Caspian Sea bed is under the jurisdiction of the countries covered by the project - that is, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

While meeting with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso in Ashgabat early last year, Berdimuhamedov said he considers the European direction to be the most promising and expressed his willingness to sign specific agreements on Nabucco project after detailed negotiations.

Barroso stressed the importance of building the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline to ensure the safety and security of energy supplies to Europe, as well as a stable demand for Turkmen gas.

During talks about the possible realization of the Trans-Caspian project, Russia and Iran, having the largest natural gas reserves in the world, discussed potential risks to the Caspian ecosystem.

Practice proves the opposite: the Russian Gazprom gas monopoly has implemented itself and continues to implement even more ambitious projects via the Black and Baltic seas. Turkmen ecologists at the international ecological conference in Ashgabat recalled that "there has been a pipeline at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea since the 1970s".

At the same time, it was said that marine pipelines "are much more practical, cheaper and environmentally safer" because they are "virtually isolated from the influence of human activity due to being under a layer of water and away from the coast."

Ashgabat is committed to the view that the environmental component for any economic project and in particular, one of this scale, is "extremely important" and said it was ready to undertake the necessary expertise at a high level with the parties concerned.

The Trans-Caspian route might become part of the Nabucco transnational project with its implementation of which Brussels expects at the expense of Caspian resources to diversify sources of gas consumption, a significant portion of which at this stage is ensured by Russia.

Potential buyers are Austrian OMV, Hungarian MOL, Turkish Botas, Bulgarian Bulgargaz, Romanian Transgaz, and German RWE which are all members of Nabucco. The last of these is represented on the Turkmen market under the Production Sharing Agreement on the shelf of the Caspian Sea.

Turkmenistan has expressed willingness to supply the Nabucco project annually with 40 billion cubic meters of gas of which 10 billion could be provided by Malaysian Petronas working on the Turkmen sea block.

The rest of the volume can be provided by the 1000km long East-West gas pipeline being built on the territory of Turkmenistan which originates from the country's largest deposits of Southern Yoloten and ends near the coast of the Caspian Sea.

Experts believe that 'resource ensuring' of Nabucco by Turkmenistan is of interest not only to potential customers in Europe, but also Turkey, as a recipient and transit facilitator, as well as Azerbaijan, on which in particular, on its Caspian oil fields, the consortium members rely.

Baku will be able to receive long term significant profit for the transit. Turkmen oil has already been actively and successfully transported via Azerbaijani ports.

As for the route, the northern part of the South Caspian basin is stable. So it's better to lay gas pipelines between the cities of Turkmenbashi and Baku, as the Caspian Sea there is quite shallow and not so wide.