EU secures Turkmenistan gas supply pledge
The European Union has secured a guarantee of 10 billion cubic meters a year of natural gas from Turkmenistan from 2009, helping to ease the bloc’s reliance on Russia, the European Commission said on Monday.
EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told the Financial Times the amount was not vast but a “very important first step” for the EU in finding alternative energy suppliers. A spokeswoman for the Commissioner said the Turkmen commitment was made in a meeting between Ferrero-Waldner and Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov last week, when she traveled to Central Asia for talks on issues ranging from energy security and pipelines to democracy and human rights. “This is an important step,” Christiane Hohmann said. “For the first time we have got a concrete figure from the Turkmens of a volume that would be available for transporting via an alternative route to Europe, which would be important for Nabucco.”
Brussels sees Central Asia, which sits atop some of the world’s biggest oil and gas reserves, as key to its ambitions to diversify energy supplies away from Russia which provides a quarter of the bloc’s gas needs. The EU has been particularly keen to convince Turkmenistan to join the long-stalled Nabucco gas pipeline project designed to link up Caspian gas with European markets. Ferrero-Waldner said there were several possible ways to bring Turkmen gas to Europe, including building a mini-pipeline to connect Azeri and Turkmen offshore installations in the Caspian Sea, building an onshore link or compressing the gas into liquid and shipping it by tanker to Azerbaijan. She said the Turkmen offer required European businesses to invest in pipeline infrastructure and exploration. “Now we have a volume that has been named which makes it interesting, it’s up to the companies to get engaged, get involved,” her spokeswoman said. (Reuters)
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