Trans-Caspian Pipeline Is Launched

By Viktoria Panfilova

Ashkhabad and Baku Start with Evaluation of Ecologic Risks.

Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan get ready to start joint accomplishment if the Trans-Caspian pipeline project. The first step will include the evaluation of ecologic risks of piping gas branch along the bottom of Caspian Sea. According to experts the pipeline will play a significant role in future within the supplies of Turkmen hydrocarbon resources to European market through Nabucco system.

In Ashkhabad the International Conference “Ecologic Aspects of Trans-Caspian Pipelines” was finished; its participants discussed the option to transport Turkmen gas along the bottom of Caspian Sea. Earlier the President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has firmly promised to the Head of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barosso during his visit to Ashkhabad to develop European direction within energy policy of its country. According to him, for this Turkmenistan has all necessary conditions. And first of all the availability of sufficient reserves of natural gas, which, as specified, are estimated of 21 trillion cubic meters. Among the number of natural gas supply to European market Turkmen Leader named the “construction of pipeline along the bottom of Caspian Sea and transportation of natural gas to Caspian Sea in specialized marine vessels-tankers”. He assured that the Contract for gas supply can be sign “even today”: “We only need companies to deliver it from Turkmenistan boarders to the consumers”.

The statement of Turkmen President in Brussels was heard and a Conference in Ashkhabad was arranged with the participation of leading specialists of energy companies and western experts.

Let’s remind that the accomplishment of Nabucco project is impeded by territorial division of Caspian Sea. Pre-Caspian states – Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Iran – still haven’t reached consent over the status of the basin, and it means that the construction of the pipeline along the bottom of Caspian Sea is out of question. However, Ashkhabad lately has grounded on that for the piping of Trans-Caspian pipeline along Caspian Sea it’s enough the consent of those states, within the waters of which it will in practice go, i.e. Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, excluding by this neighboring Iran. The last one is actively against the construction of any pipeline within Caspian Sea, bewaring of possible ecologic disasters.

“Considering that by 2020 gas production in Azerbaijan can grow twice from 27 billion cubic meters which were produced in 2010, up to planned 50-55 billion cubic meters, and the growth of gas production in Turkmenistan by 2030 according to the evaluations of specialists, will get close to 250 billion cubic meters of gas, 200 billion of which the country plans to export, than the interests of top European officials to Baku and Ashkhabad becomes understandable”, – said Azerbaijani political analyst Ilgar Velizade. According to him, Europe is involved into purchasing of sufficient scope of fuel from this country. According to various estimations, general demand in Turkmen gas can comprise from 20 to 30 billion cubic meters, and approximately 10 billion of which the country is able to transport through Nabucco. “Within these conditions the issue of disputable filed Kiapaz (Sardar) in Caspian region is de-facto out of discussion of Trans-Caspian gas pipeline. And Berdymukhamedov himself repeatedly stated that the given controversy doesn’t at all affect the development of Turkmen-Azerbaijani relations”.

Considering the spirit of neighbors, Berdymukhamedov noted during the conference opening that “by the construction of sub-water Trans-Caspian pipelines they should comply with the top international ecologic standards and norms”. According to the specialists of leading companies Petronas (Malaysia), Dragon Oil (UAE–Great Britain), CNPC (People’s Republic of China), OMV (Austria), “transportation of hydrocarbons through sea pipelines is more ecologically secure in comparison with alternative variants of gas condensing and its transportation with tankers by sea”. “The affect from construction and operation of Trans-Caspian gas pipeline towards environment will be minimal”, – specialists are convinced.

According to experts the European Union has already reached the stage starting the accomplishment of Nabucco project. And it’s possible that up till the end of year the EU, as it was planned, can sign the agreement with all suppliers of natural gas for Nabucco and start works. By this according Velizade “Baku, as well as Ashkhabad do not intend to wait for the solution of disputable issues on Caspian Sea and are ready to speed up the actions for the accomplishment of those project, which promise the both states serious economic and significant political dividends”.

According to the Head of the State Agency on Hydrocarbon Resources by the President of Turkmenistan Yakshigeldy Kakayev soon we can expect the start of political dialogue between Ashkhabad and Baku. “In the essence, from the present Conference they start system work over the search and development of joint approaches to the gas pipeline construction along the bottom of Caspian Sea with strict accomplishment of ecologic demands”, – he noted.

Western specialists in course of the Conference recommended Baku and Ashkhabad to conclude intergovernmental agreement according to which Parties could provide the possibilities for ecologic risks evaluations, without which the promotion of pipeline project is not possible.
Translated by EuroDialogueXXI from Nezavisimay gazeta