POLITICS
Forgotten Nabucco and New Alternative
22 September, 2011

Russia is categorically against the construction of Ttrans-Caspian gas pipeline

It turns out that they in Europe arrived at a conclusion to forget about perpetually problematic Nabucco for a while and instead get down to constructing one of its branches – Trans-Caspian gas pipeline. Naturally, this decision of the EU enraged Russia. The Kremlin believes this pipeline, if constructed, will pose environmental threats.

The European Council gave its consent to European representatives to launch negotiations with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on the construction

of Trans-Caspian gas pipeline. The pipeline route is Tengiz (Kazakhstan) – Turkmenbashi (Turkmenistan) – Baku – Tbilisi – Erzerum (Turkey).

According to the plan, the future pipeline will transport 20-30 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe yearly. Specialists think that the EU decision is a response to Russian active engagement in northern and southern projects.

Till today the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline was seen as a part of the Nabucco project, which is still considered as an alternative to Russian South Stream. However, financial resources for Nabucco have not been successfully attracted so far. First statements on the matter have already been made in Baku. Rovnag Abdulaev, President of Socar Company announced that Baku was ready to discuss the question of the conceived Trans-Caspian gas pipeline; it is the EU and Turkmenistan who have final say because Azerbaijan would be a transit country in this project.

“The Trans-Caspian gas pipeline is not our immediate project. It belongs to Turkmenistan and EU. Accordingly, infrastructure for the route is a competence of these two sides,” Abdulaev said.

Russia and Iran also stated their positions on the gas pipeline project. Naturally, Minister of Energy of Russian Federation Sergei Shamtko expressed his outright disapproval regarding the idea of the gas pipeline construction. In his view, serious environmental questions would arise, should the pipeline come into fruition.

As for Nabucco, the first agreement on the transportation of gas through this pipeline was expected to be reached this year but it did not happen just like it did not happen in previous years. Oddly enough, the project executives have been assuring all along that the first gas will travel through the pipeline in 2015. The planned Nabucco throughput is 31 billion cub meters per year. As a matter of fact, by 2015 Russian gas is expected to meet 42% of gas needs of Europe.

 

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