Will Turkmen gas come to Europe?

Will Turkmen gas come to Europe?

Nury AMANOV

These kinds of questions are asked almost from the time of the collapse of the USSR. And the reason for writing this material was the speech on the radio of the National News Service of the leading analyst of the National Energy Security Fund Igor Yushkov on who can deliver natural gas to Europe instead of Russia.

To be honest, I somewhat jotted the statement of the question. Why instead of Russia? Why not with Russia? Turkmenistan is also a major supplier of natural gas, but it never raises the question of doing something instead of someone. Ashgabat always stands for doing something together. But this is so, by the way.

Yushkov conscientiously listed all the states that could hypothetically supply the Old World with fuel, and named the reasons why they can not do this.

In my opinion, on the whole, everything is set out convincingly and qualitatively, except for that part of the speech, which refers to Turkmenistan. Actually, one of the largest suppliers of natural gas in the region has been given only one proposal: “Another potential supplier is Turkmenistan, but it delivers all gas to China.”

Sounds like a sentence. Enough gas volumes, and a possibility to supply, if not for China.

Let’s once again ask the question “can Turkmenistan supply gas to Europe?”, and will try to answer it in essence.

To begin with, according to experts, Turkmenistan has one of the world’s top four natural gas reserves, along with Russia, Iran and Qatar, and at the IX International Gas Congress held in Turkmenistan these days, the country’s export potential only in 2018 is defined at a level of 100-120 billion cubic meters. At the same time, currently Turkmenistan annually supplies about 40 billion cubic meters to the Middle Kingdom.

And what should Turkmenistan do with the rest of the export gas? Simple arithmetic means that even after full fulfillment of contractual obligations to the People’s Republic of China, a considerable amount of gas will remain in the asset of Ashgabat. Here you can remember about Europe. It turns out that gas for the Old World is abundant. Another question is how to deliver it there?

Thus, the issue of supply of Turkmen natural gas to the European market is not limited to the fact that Turkmenistan does not have “free” gas, since it is completely purchased by China, but rather to the fact that there is no corresponding pipeline infrastructure for this.

But even here everything is not so gloomy. This infrastructure is being created by the partners of Turkmenistan – Azerbaijan and Turkey. Moreover, on June 12th of this year, the Transanatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) will be commissioned, which provides for the supply of gas from Azerbaijan via Georgia and Turkey to the Greek border. Here, its continuation will be via the Trans Adriatic gas pipeline to the countries of Southern Europe. According to experts, the first gas (so far only Azeri) will begin to flow into Europe by 2019-2020.

The reader can ask a reasonable question, but where does Turkmenistan come from, because Azerbaijani gas will go to Europe? The whole point is that Azerbaijan has a lot of oil, but not too much natural gas. Well, it happens. For example, Turkmenistan is rich in natural gas, and not so much in oil. In fact, without Turkmen natural gas, energy supplies to Europe from the Caspian region have no economic sense.

And the distance from the Turkmen coast of the Caspian Sea to the Azerbaijani one is only about 300 kilometers. What is 300 kilometers, even on the seabed, for Turkmenistan, which together with its partners built a gas pipeline to China?

At present, all the Caspian littoral countries live, if one may say so, in anticipation of the signing of a convention on the Caspian Sea. The text of the document is agreed, and most likely, will be signed in August this year at the summit of the heads of the Caspian countries in Astana. The document on the Caspian Sea regulates the economic activities of coastal countries at sea, including the construction of pipeline systems.

Therefore, I believe that after the adoption of the Caspian Convention, these 300 kilometers along the seabed of the Caspian Sea will not remain an obstacle on the not-so-close path of Turkmen natural gas to Europe for a short time. And Turkmenistan will certainly supply natural gas to Europeans, not instead of Russia, but with it.