Maros Sefcovic securing Turkmen gas for European customers

By: Gulgiz Dadashova

The time for Brussels to address Europe’s need for stable energy security has never been more opportune since Turkmenistan is now looking to the West.

Keen to free itself from the Russian gas dependency, the European Union has been playing hard balls in recent years, looking for new partners and sources of energy to meet its growing needs. The old contingent already secured Azerbaijan’s gas from its giant Shah Deniz field for the Southern Gas Corridor.

But the EU needs more. So Western powers have turned to Turkmenistan as a potential main source of gas to the Corridor. The EU has said to be willing to take special policy measures aimed at encouraging Ashgabat to cooperate jointly with Azerbaijan and Turkey, emerging gas hub, to ensure gas supplies.

The EU’s efforts have been met favorably by Turkmenistan, as Ashgabat needs to diversify from its client portfolio, from a single customer policy to a more competitive and dynamic strategy.

“Turkmenistan has the political will to participate in these projects [gas supply projects], and Europe has the political will to diversify its energy supplies,” said Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission vice-president in charge of Europe’s energy agenda, quoting President Gurbangulu Berdimuhamedov.

Following talks with the Turkmen president on April 30 in Ashgabat, Sefcovic said the EU intends to begin natural gas supply from the Caspian region to Europe in 2019-2020, RIA Novosti reports.

“Specifically, we found the Southern Gas Corridor to be an important and strategic project for us, because it is able to diversify energy sources and energy directions. We want to begin the supply of natural gas from the Caspian region to Europe in 2019-2020,” he said.

The EU official noted that the European Commission called on major European gas companies to determine their commercial interests and desire to participate in these projects.

He expressed hope that the efforts of the Commission in this direction will be more insistent than before.

Sefcovic went on to add that he discussed with the president, the potential environmental risks associated with the construction of a gas pipeline across the Caspian Sea (Trans-Caspian Pipeline).

As of today, the Trans Caspian gas pipeline is the best option to open the way for Turkmen gas to the EU.

Turkmenistan with its enormous natural gas reserves and Azerbaijan with its strong energy projects are key players of the TCP project. The project envisaged laying down a 300 kilometers long gas pipeline running under the Caspian to the shores of Azerbaijan. Further fuel will be transported to Turkey which has common borders with European countries.

“Research specialists have seen good results showing that the gas pipeline does not bear any environmental threats for the region,” Sefcovic said.

The Turkmen government reported that Turkmenistan and the EU expressed interest in the creation of a new international legal mechanism to ensure reliable and stable energy supplies.

The issue was debated in between Sefcovic and Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov, who mulled Berdimuhamedov’s initiative “aimed at the creation of a new international legal mechanism to ensure reliable and stable energy supplies.”

Sefcovic also noted that representatives of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the European Union will meet on May 1 and eye the implementation of a project to supply natural gas from the Caspian region to Europe.

Sefcovic stressed that during the quadripartite meeting parties all planned to discuss issues of cooperation within the framework of this project.

The rise in interest in Turkmenistan’s gas talks with the EU has been influenced both by the EU’s own increased interest in the field of energy, as well as Russia’s policy. Brussels, faced with a deep crisis in its relations with Moscow, over its Ukraine policy, has revised its energy strategy and revived the strategic importance of the Southern Gas Corridor.

The 3,500-kilometer South Gas Corridor that would finally end Europe’s dependence on a single pipeline started with the go-ahead to the South Caucasus Pipeline Expansion, which will connect the Sangachal terminal with eastern Turkey through Georgia. It will link up with the SOCAR-led TANAP to be connected with a third pipeline TAP on the Turkish-Greek border.

SOURCE: Azer News