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.
Volatility eased as traders focused on the world economy and corporate earnings after a week dominated by the dramatic spike in tensions over North Korea, which triggered a global sell-off before prices bounced back Monday.
Investors greeted the more conciliatory tone after US stocks dropped three days in a row last week on President Donald Trump's vow of "fire and fury" if North Korea continued to pursue its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
The ultra-conservative kingdom has moved to diversify its traditionally oil-dependent economy following a sharp fall in crude prices.
In its monthly report on the global oil market, the International Energy Agency said, however, that it believes the supply glut is easing, partly because demand is growing faster.
US stocks have been in retreat since President Donald Trump Tuesday issued a fiery warning to North Korea to halt its nuclear program.
The move by one of Japan's best-known firms greatly reduces the chance of an embarrassing delisting from the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE).
London's benchmark FTSE 100 index weakened by 0.5 percent to 7,503.39 points.
The approval by the European Commission comes just over two months after the European Central Bank -- which took on the role of the eurozone's banking supervisor in 2014 -- allowed the sale to go ahead for a symbolic fee of one euro.
BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and Total have all published results in recent days, showing they pocketed $23 billion in net profit in the first half fo the year.
Higher cereal, sugar and dairy prices pushed food price index by 10.2 percent annually in July
HSBC was also a big riser, gaining three percent at £7.65 ($10, 8.5 euros) in late morning trade after the British banking giant announced a share buyback plan alongside a rise in first-half profits.
Both main crude contracts made strong gains, with WTI testing $50 a barrel for the first time since late May and Brent heading towards $53, while mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto saw their share price rise as commodities strengthened.