Turkmen gas: How divide it between Gazprom, Europe and China?

Turkmen gas: How divide it between Gazprom, Europe and China?

Nury AMANOV

Expert community continues to discuss the gas issue, and Gazprom, Europe and China, who have common ground with Turkmen gas, are the main “heroes” of analytical materials.

This question is asked by experts in different angles. Do Gazprom, Europe and China need Turkmen gas? Who needs it more? If they don’t need it, then what shall be done? Etc.

Unfortunately, and perhaps, fortunately, most of these publications are written according to the famous Russian saying: “A good story cannot be written without lie”. There is a very little truth in these materials. At least, as they think, it will be interesting to read.

Of course, the resumption on purchase of Turkmen gas by Gazprom from January 1, 2019, and the willingness of the EU to support the attraction of investments to the construction of Trans-Caspian gas pipeline are the “news-makers”.

Some analysts, mainly Russian, suggest that statement of Gazprom to resume the purchase of Turkmen gas is a kind of charity. They say that by resuming Turkmen gas purchase, the Russian gas giant helps the country in a critical moment to solve economic problems. As to charity, this is something new. Previously, Gazprom known by its pragmatism and shrewdness has not been linked in such charitable actions.

Moreover, these experts are firmly believe that Turkmenistan is unable to export gas to Europe. I am referring this argument literally: “It is not clear if Turkmenistan has gas for export to Europe at all.” There is a category of people who believe if they do not understand something, then it simply does not exist. Such cases are described in the relevant areas of science. The fact that before the crisis of 2008, Gazprom purchased about 50 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas annually, makes sense, of course. I would add something more. According to independent experts, Turkmenistan has the world’s fourth largest proven natural gas reserves.

However, some other experts are putting emphasis on another thing. Their opinions coincide with ORIENT. So, then the real question is: Why Gazprom agrees to get Turkmen gas to compete with its own one? Expert on the region Simon Pirani answer the question as follows. According Pirani, Gazprom would prefer not to encourage a direct competitor, and might prefer to profit from offering that competitor a limited access to a route to Europe that it controls, rather than allowing a new route to be opened up.

Several observers in the business and diplomatic circles say that by resuming Turkmen gas purchase, Moscow discourages Ashgabat to try to get a Trans-Caspian gas pipeline to be built in the near future.

The reader might ask: What does China have to do with it? The point is that several observers has a paradoxical opinion on above-mentioned question regarding the resumption of Turkmen gas purchase by Gazprom.

Some suggest that Gazprom might have been worrying that Turkmen gas could compete with its own one on the Chinese market. Igor Yushkov, leading analyst at the National Energy Security Foundation, declared the following to the NSN radio: “It is possible that Gazprom is trying to push China to conclude a contract with us, by limiting the possibility of gas supplies from Turkmenistan to China”.

The analyst does not exclude that Gazprom will buy such a quantity of Turkmen gas that China will get nothing, or that China will get so little volume of Turkmen gas, so it will be forced to conclude a contract with Gazprom. Something like that.

The idea, of course, is clear, at the same time, this multimove game is somehow complicated, and even a bit confusing. However, who promised that everything will be very simple. We respect the opinions of others, and therefore we say that it is also possible.

In the end, we want to answer the question: How divide Turkmen gas between Gazprom, Europe and China? The main point is that no need to divide it at all. The gas reserves are enough for everyone. And above all, do not quarrel over gas.