European markets are currently not a viable destination for the export of Turkmen gas, expert of the British University of Glasgow focusing on the Central Asia, Luca Anceschi believes.
Earlier, the European Commission’s Vice President for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic said that the EU expects to receive Turkmen gas in 2019. The best route for delivering Turkmen gas to Europe would be a 300-kilometer long gas pipeline running through the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijani coasts by further connecting it to the Southern Gas Corridor gas pipelines’ system.
Anceschi said that building far-flung pipelines (for Turkmen gas supplies to Europe) appears an increasingly unlikely endeavor at times of very low oil and gas prices.
"Turkmenistan continues to be reluctant to open its fields to foreign firms, especially those from the West. Also, the Trans-Caspian pipeline project which can allow Turkmen gas supplies is opposed by Russia and Iran."
Anceschi stressed that in fact Russia is seeing that Turkmen gas flowing to the West will significantly dilute its leverage on European supplies. He added that Tehran does in turn oppose the Transcaspian pipeline as it aspires to become the key transit country for a pipeline carrying Turkmen gas westwards after the lifting of sanctions.
The expert also stressed that the proposal to supply Turkmen gas to Europe has nothing to do with demand considerations but it does rather represent the net effect of a series of geopolitical and geo-economic factors.
Meanwhile the expert noted that Gazprom’s decision to suspend gas purchases from Turkmenistan since early 2016 provoked unease in Ashgabat that China is expected to become its only customer in the long term.
To avoid this dependence, the identification of new export routes for Turkmenistan’s natural gas has now become an urgent priority for Ashgabat, he said.
Turkmenistan ranks fourth in the world in terms of gas reserves - 17.5 trillion cubic meters of gas. Currently, the country produces more than 75 billion cubic meters of gas per year, and it is planned to increase production to 230 billion cubic meters by 2030, most part of which will be exported.