Turkmenistan considers sending gas West

DEC. 14 2022 (The Bulletin)  — The leaders of Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey ordered their officials to start drawing up plans to pump Turkmen gas to the West, raising prospects of a pipeline across the Caspian Sea.

Plans to construct a pipeline to pump Turkmen gas have been touted for years without getting past the drawing board but Western sanctions on Russia has rejuvenated interest in alternative gas sources for Europe.

Some analysts, though, said that they were surprised that a gas pipeline deal wasn’t agreed at the trilateral meeting. They suggested that Kremlin pressure on Turkmenistan may have interfered.

Even so, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that progress had been made.

“We are ready to cooperate with our Turkmen and Azerbaijani brothers in the field of friendship in the Caspian,” he said at the meeting in Awaza, a purpose-built tourist city in west Turkmenistan.

Turkmen gas is already being sent to Azerbaijan via a gas swap with Iran.

Europe has spent billions of euros setting up deals with Azerbaijan that will reduce its reliance on Russian gas and it has also started talking about receiving Turkmen gas too.

And the prospect of Turkmen gas flowing to Europe has US backing too.

“The US is exploring potential ways to support bringing Turkmen gas to Azerbaijan in order to increase the availability of non-Russian natural gas,” said Karen Donfried, US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs.

A gas pipeline across the Caspian has been seriously considered several times previously but with Europe taking most of its gas from Russia, it wasn’t economically viable. That has now changed.


— This story was published in issue 531 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on Dec. 19 2022

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2022

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