EU Urges Kazakhstan to Join Trans-Caspian Pipeline

Energy | October 4, 2011, Tuesday // 15:13|  views

Map of the proposed Trans-Caspian Pipeline. Map by

The European Union has formally proposed that Kazakhstan join the Trans-Caspian Pipeline project designed to transport Central Asian gas to Europe, European Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said at the opening of the Eurasian forum KAZENERGY in Astana.

EU’s invitation for Kazakhstan to become part of the Trans-Caspian pipe comes after the adoption of a mandate to negotiate a legally binding treaty between the EU, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to build a Trans-Caspian Pipeline System, which became the first time that the European Union proposed a treaty in support of an infrastructure project.

"For the EU such a pipeline project will be a very important contribution to the development of the Southern Gas Corridor," Oettinger said, as cited by Trend News Agency. "This shows how much the EU appreciates this project and cooperation in the region. We would welcome Kazakhstan's participation in the Southern Corridor in the future".

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.

The EU believes in existence of various opportunities to connect the European markets with the markets of the Eastern Caspian states, including with Nabucco and Trans-Caspian pipelines.

"Thus, we consider establishment of a special Trans-Caspian Corridor as another opportunity," he said.

"This pipeline will become a very important contribution to the development of the Southern Gas Corridor. Not many people know that this is the first time the has EU suggested signing an international contract aimed at supporting an infrastructure project. It shows how important the project and cooperation in the region are important for the EU and all its 27 member states. We will welcome corresponding participation of Kazakhstan in the Southern Corridor in the future," Oettinger stated, as cited by RIA Novosti.

Oettinger said the EU works to ensure that the Southern Corridor become a reality. "We believe that it is important to create stable markets with competitive prices and best customers".

The expected annual capacity of the Tengiz (Kazakhstan)-Turkmenbashi (Turkmenistan)-Baku (Azerbaijan)-Tbilisi (Georgia)-Erzurum (Turkey) route amounts to 20-30 billion cubic meters of gas. The cost of the project is estimated at EUR 7.9 B.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has reacted unfavorably to EU’s move by saying that any attempts from outside to interfere in Caspian's business affairs, or issues which are sensitive for the Caspian Five members, may complicate the situation in the region and have a negative impact on current negotiations on the new legal status of the Caspian Sea.

The EC has 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.

What is more, it is viewed as a milestone in the realization 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.

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 has reminded 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.

In March 2011, the Bulgarian government encouraged the government of Turkmenistan for the construction of the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline, as it did in April 2010 as well.

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.

Speaking in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana on Tuesday, EU Energy Commissioner Oettinger also talked about the opportunity to sign a new agreement with Kazakhstan on energy cooperation.

Astana will host negotiations on new agreement to extend partnership and deepen the energy cooperation between the EU and Kazakhstan.

"I look forward to the results of these talks," Oettinger said. "The EU-Kazakhstan energy cooperation is based on solid foundation, but we can achieve more".

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Tags: Kazakstan, Interconnection Greece-Bulgaria, TAP, Trans Adriatic Pipeline, Interconnector Turkey Greece Italy, ITGI, Tengiz Field, Baku, azerbaijan, Turkmenbasy, Central Asia, Turkmenistan, gas transit pipeline, natural gas, Trans-Caspian pipeline, Southern Gas Corridor, Nabucco Gas Pipeline International, Nabucco, South stream, gas transit pipeline, natural gas, Russia, Jose Manuel Barroso, European Commission, EC, Guenther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Energy, Ilham Aliyev, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, Kazenergy, Astana


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