18 Jan 2024 12:22

Prospects of Trans-Caspian gas pipeline project depend on commercial interest, markets - EC VP

ASHGABAT. Jan 18 (Interfax) - The outlook for the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline project cannot be decided politically, it requires commercial interest and markets, European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas said at a briefing after a visit to Turkmenistan.

Economic projects are not decided by politicians - they are of strategic interest, but there must also be commercial interest and there must be markets, Schinas said, responding to a question about the prospects of the Trans-Caspian pipeline.

He said he did not come to discuss any specific economic projects, but in order to present the architecture for cooperation. A platform needs to be created that could become a foundation for political support, for investment and building cooperation, Schinas said, adding that the European Union is in constant contact with Turkmenistan, which produces and exports energy resources.

Asked how the EU plans to step up work on transporting Turkmen gas, he said the EU is building energy resilience so that it has the energy it needs from the sources available to it.

However, the EU is a proponent of green energy, Schinas said, adding that the EC will analyze the situation and report the results.

The U.S. ambassador to Turkmenistan, Matthew Klimow welcomed the idea of building the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline if Europe is interested in it. It would be very wise to run a pipeline across the Caspian Sea and this would not be a major problem in terms of engineering, he said. The political and economic calculations need to be made in order to carry out the project and there must be interest from countries in the Caspian region and from Europe, he added.

Turkmenistan has been discussing the possibility of building the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, with capacity of 10 bcm to 30 bcm per year, with Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia and the EU for many years. Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said recently that there is little chance of building it until the financing sources are clear. He said earlier that the pipeline is not Azerbaijan's project, as the country would play only a transit role.

Russia and Iran opposed the pipeline's construction for a long time, but in August 2018 the presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Iran signed a convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea at a meeting in Aktau. Under this document, laying a pipeline along the bottom of the Caspian does not require the approval of all Caspian countries, just those through whose sectors of the sea the pipeline is laid. In the case of the Trans-Caspian pipeline, this is Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.