Ashgabat, 27 May 2013 (nCa) — Some headway has apparently been made in consolidation of the political will to build the Trans-Caspian pipeline.
Richard Morningstar, the US ambassador to Azerbaijan, said Friday (24 May) that Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan have the right to lay the Trans-Caspian pipeline and the US in general agrees to it. He was speaking at the conference ‘Maritime and Energy Law in Azerbaijan: international and national perspectives.’
However, he steered clear of any potential political barbs by adding that each country should determine for itself the political implications of each attempted step in this direction.
Morningstar also underlined that the ecological concerns must be addressed adequately.
He indicated that it would be desirable to go for Trans-Caspian through the Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-EU trilateral format which is already in advanced stages of negotiations.
Two documents are being prepared and together they would constitute the legal backbone of the Trans-Caspian project: 1. A trilateral sale-purchase framework between EU, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, and 2. A bilateral agreement between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan covering the main aspects related to construction, transit, and transportation.
The 300-km pipeline, if built, would enable annual transportation of about 30-40 bcm of gas to Europe by using the Southern Gas corridor through Turkey. Most of these volumes would originate from Turkmenistan, a country which is building the East-West pipeline to ensure availability of supplies from all of its major fields to any buyer in any direction. Moreover, the foreign PSA holders in Turkmenistan are also in a position to contribute some 10 bcm to exports from their offshore and mainland concessions.
Reshit Meredov, the deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Turkmenistan, during a special briefing for journalists in Ashgabat on 21 May, also supported strongly the idea of Trans-Caspian pipeline.
He said, “When we speak of the west, we mean supply from Turkmenistan to Europe. There are a number of routes that are currently under active development, especially European countries and our neighbors, the countries of the region, primarily Turkey, with which we share a natural partnership. Reliability of supply to Europe will directly depend on how we build our relationship diagram. Today, this has all requisite conditions.”
He pointed out the major milestones that had been achieved in the Turkmen-EU energy dialogue: Visit of Berdymuhamedov to Brussels in November 2007; Visits of EU energy commissioner to Turkmenistan; Signing of Turkmenistan-EU MoU in the sphere of energy in 2008; Agreement to establish a joint Turkmenistan-EU working group on energy issues; Trilateral negotiations between Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and EU on Trans-Caspian.
The remarks of Meredov hint at some kind of approaching breakthrough. He said, “We are ready to cooperate with our Turkish counterparts, and have demonstrated this in September 2012, when the Commission held a trilateral meeting on energy issues – Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-EU. Then we invited as an observer Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Turkey. In my view, this is a real project where we need to continue the work systematically.”
President Abdullah Gul of Turkey is scheduled to visit Turkmenistan, 29-31 May 2013. That would be the time to splice together some hanging strands.