World Bulletin / News Desk
As the Ukraine crisis deepens tensions between Europe and Russia, Europe is looking for alternatives to Russia for its natural gas supply. One particular alternative is Turkmenistan, which has the fourth largest gas reserves in the world estimated at 32 trillion cubic meters.
Already producing around 80 billion cubic meters of gas per year of export for Chinese, Russian, Iranian and central Asian markets, the a planned pipeline from Turkmenistan across the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan and Turkey will open the way for gas to be transported to the European market.
However, problems are likely to be encountered, as Russia and Iran are strategically opposed to Turkmenistan pumping gas to Europe, the head of the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy Energy Research Center Dr. Elnur Soltanov was quoted saying in the Daily Sabah.
"This can only be possible if Europe and the U.S. can balance Russia. Iran does not want Turkmenistan gas to be transported to Europe, either, due to political and economic reasons," he said.
The foreign ministers of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are due to meet on Monday, May 26, to discuss tripartite relations regarding the transportation of Turkmen gas to the West, especially since Turkey is hoping to offer its natural land bridge as a route for the pipelines.
Turkmenistan has traditionally seen the Asian continent as a more attractive market for its gas reserves. However, with tensions mounting along the Kyrgyzistan-Tajikistan border, pipelines to China are coming increasingly under threat.
Also, with neighbor Kazakhstan already in the Russian-led Customs Union and Kyzgyzstan becoming likely member in the future, old Soviet alliances could cause problems for Turkmenistan's eastern exports.
No doubt last week's natural gas deal between Russia and China will also add an element of competition to lower prices for the Chinese market, while Russia ally Iran could also block deliveries to the West.
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