12 Aug 2019 11:48

Projects to export gas from Russia, Turkmenistan should only compete on market terms - official

MOSCOW. Aug 12 (Interfax) - Potential competition between Russian and Turkmen projects to export gas to Europe "should be determined exclusively by economic factors and be based on market mechanisms," the first deputy chief of staff of the Russian government, Sergei Prikhodko told reporters in response to a question from Interfax ahead of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Turkmenistan.

"Before the signing of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea and coupled with it the littoral countries signed the Protocol on Environment Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context to the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea," he recalled.

"This international agreement confers the right of every nation located on the coast of the Caspian to participate in comprehensive environmental assessment of marine activities of a transboundary nature that could potentially affect its natural environment. And this participation applies starting with the design stage. The Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, when talking about the right to construction of pipelines, directly refers to these obligations," Prikhodko said.

He remarked that Russia is the largest and a reliable supplier of gas to Europe. Russia exported a record 201.9 billion cubic meters of pipeline gas to the European market in 2018, and is also the second largest supplier of liquefied natural gas to the European Union after Qatar.

"As for competition, it should be determined exclusively by economic factors and be based on market mechanisms. In this regard, the insistent attempts by certain forces both within the European Union and outside of it to politicize this matter are deeply regrettable," Prikhodko said.

Ashgabat has been holding negotiations for several years with Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia and the EU on the construction of a Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline (TCP) and on exporting Turkmen gas to Europe along the Southern gas corridor.

In October 2018, a Turkmen delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister for energy Myratgeldi Meredow discussed the TCP project in Brussels with European Commission Vice President in charge of Energy Union Maros Sefcovic and representatives of the EC's Directorate-General for Energy. Meredow said the EU showed interest in Turkmen gas being shipped to the European market and was prepared to help raise investment to build the TCP.

The TCP project calls for shipping 30 bcm of gas to the European market per year for 30 years. The country has the necessary infrastructure to support gas exports to Europe, including the East-West gas pipeline with capacity of 30 bcm per year, which allows for reverse transport of gas from eastern Turkmenistan to western parts of the country and back.