Turkmenistan indicates interest in EU gas pipeline
Jul 11, 2009, 14:34 GMT
Ashgabat - Gas-rich Turkmenistan has indicated an interest in the Nabucco gas pipeline, just days before an accord for the multi-billion-euro European Union project is due to be signed in Turkey, reports said Saturday.
Geologists have determined that Central Asian country has enough natural gas to become involved in the supply of gas to Europe, President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov told Parliament, according to a report by the RIA Novosti news agency.
The countries involved in Nabucco pipeline - Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey are due to sign an agreement in Ankara on Monday.
The EU intends to use the pipeline to reduce its dependency on Russian gas.
According to Berdymukhamedov, Turkmenistan has 'a surplus of natural gas that can be sold abroad. Local geologists had confirmed 'colossal' natural gas reserves, he said.
Official reports said Turkmenistan's Caspian Sea region had around 6 trillion cubic metres of gas. In April, the government and German energy giant RWE signed an agreement for the exploration of the gas fields.
As of 2013, the Nabucco pipeline is to transport gas from Central Asia along the so-called Southern Corridor via Turkey to Austria.
The EU is funding the 8-billion project with grants and loans. Brussels' main problem is who will ultimately pump the estimated 31 billion cubic metres of gas annually along the 3,300-kilometre pipeline.
Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan did not become signatories to the accord signed at the EU energy summit in Prague at the beginning of May.
Russia has also been courting the three former Soviet republics for its own pipeline projects. The three are key to Europe's plans to reduce its dependency on Russia for gas.
Meanwhile, China, Pakistan and India have also been queuing up for a source of fossil fuel in Central Asia. The possibility of supplies from Iran remained uncertain because of the political situation in the country.
The unprecedented gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine that put gas supplies to Europe in jeopardy, gave impetus to the Nabucco project.
German is expected to send observers to the planned signing in Ankara. Former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer was recently appointed advisor to the Nabucco project.