EU Sets Out to Lure Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan into Trans-Caspian PipelineEnergy | September 12, 2011, Monday // 17:10| views
The EU has set out to secure the construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline. Map from Wikipedia
The EU has adopted a mandate to negotiate with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan the building of the long-anticipated Trans-Caspian oil and gas pipeline, the EC has announced.
"Today the European Union has adopted a mandate to negotiate a legally binding treaty between the EU, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to build a Trans Caspian Pipeline System. This is the first time that the European Union has proposed a treaty in support of an infrastructure project. The treaty will be concluded by the EU after decision by all 27 Member States that the European Commission should lead the negotiations on behalf of them all," the European Commission said in a statement Monday.
It pointed out that the decision for the Trans-Caspian pipeline is a direct follow-up of the visit of President Jos? Manuel Barroso and Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger to Baku and Ashgabat in January 2011 and their meetings with Presidents Ilham Aliyev and Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
“It constitutes a milestone in the realisation of the Southern Energy Corridor and is the first operational decision as part of a co-ordinated and united external energy strategy, as proposed in the European Commission's Communication on security of energy supply and international cooperation - "The EU Energy Policy: Engaging with Partners beyond Our Borders" - adopted on 7 September,“ according to the European Commission.
"Europe is now speaking with one voice. The trans-Caspian pipeline is a major project in the Southern Corridor to bring new sources of gas to Europe. We have the intention of achieving this as soon as possible," EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger is quoted as saying.
The Trans-Caspian Pipeline agreement will set the basis for the construction of a submarine pipeline connecting Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan, and in turn link this pipeline to infrastructure that will bring gas from Central Asia to the EU.
According to the EC, discussions with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan will focus on inter alia a treaty setting out legal commitments between the European Union, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, the bilateral arrangements necessary for Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan to achieve the commissioning, building, and operation of the trans-Caspian pipeline itself, and the legal framework that will apply to filling the pipeline with gas from Turkmenistan, including an appropriate recognition of commercial arrangements
The Commission reminds that Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan have expressed the availability of substantial gas volumes and a clear willingness to sell it to Europe. The European Union is ready to give the political and legal support for the gas deliveries to take place.
The Southern Energy Corridor (also called the Southern Gas Corridor) aims at supplying Europe with gas coming directly from the Caspian basin and the Middle East. It intends to increase security of supply for European households and industry by diversifying gas sources and routes, thus minimising dependence on few suppliers and potential gas cuts, the EC says.
Over the last months, the EU has engaged in a regular dialogue with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, which figure among the key potential gas suppliers for Nabucco, ITGI (Interconnector Turkey- Greece-Italy) and TAP (Trans-Adriatic Pipeline).
In January 2011, President Barroso signed a Joint Declaration with President Aliyev which supports the swift allocation of available gas resources in Azerbaijan. At the time, the document was described as a "breakthrough" deal with Azerbaijan on the supply of natural gas to the Union from the Caucasus country and on the development of the so called Southern Gas Corridor with several major pipelines including Nabucco.
The project for the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline, whose gas transit can be included in the so called Southern Gas Corridor developed by the EU around Russia, has been stalled largely by opposition on part of Russia and Iran.
Short of declaring outright political reasons, Russia and Iran have objected to the project on technically environmental and legal grounds - with respect to the status of the Caspian Sea and the littoral states. They claim that a potential pipeline project, regardless of the route, should need the consent of all five Caspian littoral states.
The Southern Gas Corridor entails the construction of several pipelines, such as Nabucco (running from Turkey to Austria and Germany via Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary), ITGI (Interconnection Turkey-Greece-Italy), White Stream (known also as the Georgia-Ukraine-EU pipeline) and TAP (the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline), aiming to bring gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe.
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