The Trans-Caspian gas pipeline project is expected to be high on agenda during trilateral meeting of the leaders of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Turkmenistan due in Ashgabat before the end of the year.
Such an assumption was made by the expert Sabit Bagirov who believes that all three sides have their own interests in the implementation of this mega-project.
“Azerbaijan has transit interests in this project and Turkey is considered a hub-country, a leading gas power, while Turkmenistan hopes to expand the export opportunities of Turkmen gas supplies to the European market in order to replenish its own foreign exchange reserves. Thus, the practical interest of all the states in implementing this project is obvious,” he told Day.az.
At the same time, there are neighboring countries which are not interested in the implementation of this project, including Russia and Iran, as the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline might compete with the ambitious projects they implemented Bagirov noted. For instance, Russia supports Turkish Stream project, envisaging Russian gas supplies to Turkey and further to Europe.
There are also other obstacles remaining in place such as costs, competition from other projects, stagnating demand for gas in Europe, uncertainty about Turkmen supplies and undefined legal status of the Caspian Sea.
Therefore, the upcoming September meeting is expected to bring clarity to the project’s fate and demonstrate joint political will of Ankara, Baku and Ashgabat, expert said.
He also noted that the Trans-Caspian pipeline can be realized within the framework of the Southern Gas Corridor project, which involves the supply of gas from the Caspian region, in particular Azerbaijani gas, to Europe.
At the same time, the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline project is considered the best option for delivering energy resources from Turkmenistan, the world’s fourth for gas reserves, to the European market.
The pipeline is supposed to be laid along the bottom of the Caspian Sea to the shores of Azerbaijan. Further on the existing infrastructure, Turkmen hydrocarbons can get to Turkey, which borders with European countries.
Trans-Caspian gas pipeline may be implemented as a part of huge Southern Gas Corridor project designed to transport gas from the Caspian region, in particular Azerbaijani gas to European countries.
A project to import natural gas from Turkmenistan through a subsea pipeline was suggested in 1996 by the United States. Negotiations on the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline between the EU, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan began in September 2011.
Ashgabat undertook the initiative to host the talks because Turkmenistan stands for a balance of interests between producers, transit countries and consumers.