Although Turkmenistan, and the European Union, would be extremely pleased if the Trans-Caspian Pipeline (TCP) was built, the fact is that both Iran and Russian continue to oppose its construction, Bruce Pannier, US expert on Central Asia, told Trend.
Since Russia already exports gas to EU countries and Iran hopes to do the same very soon, there is a little likelihood that either country would drop its longstanding objections to TCP, according to the expert.
“Publicly, Moscow and Tehran cite the possibility of environmental damage that could be caused by TCP, but in fact, the more likely reason is that they would rather not have a competitor in the European market,” he said.
In addition, Russia has also made very visible demonstrations of its naval capabilities in the Caspian in recent years, notably, firing cruise missiles at the targets in Syria from Russian warships in the Caspian, Pannier noted.
“Russia could have fired such missiles from other places but the choice of naval vessels in the Caspian seems to have been intended to send a message to other countries that the Russian Navy was the master of the Caspian Sea. That alone should give reason for any foreign investors to consider carefully joining the TCP project,” he added.
Pannier stressed that, EU would be happy to include Turkmen gas into the union’s Southern Gas Corridor project
“While Turkmenistan is willing to sell gas via TCP, Ashgabat has never been willing to spend its own money to build the pipeline. In fact, Ashgabat has not even signed an agreement to sell gas to EU and has chosen to wait until pipeline construction actually starts,” he said.
Pannier noted that TCP would carry 30 bcm of Turkmen gas, which would be helpful to EU, but would in no way mean that the latter could manage without natural gas from Russia, or other countries.
“Even when Azerbaijani gas reaches EU in 2019, Turkmen gas would still be welcomed, but that raises another problem of whether there would be enough space in TANAP for Turkmen gas, or would a new pipeline across Turkey needed to be built,” he concluded.
The Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline Project, which involves the construction of a 300-km pipeline along the bottom of the Caspian Sea to the coast of Azerbaijan, is considered to be the optimal solution for the delivery of Turkmen energy resources to the European market. Further, along the way, Turkmen gas can be transported through the existing pipelines to Turkey, which borders European countries.
The project may be implemented as a part of the huge Southern Gas Corridor project, designed to transport gas from the Caspian region to European countries.
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