Turkmenistan to Supply EU with Natural Gas via Caspian by 2019

According to a new report published by Reuters, the European Union expects to begin receiving Turkmen natural gas as early as 2019. EU Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic, a Russian-speaking career diplomat from Slovakia, recently held meetings in Ashgabat with the foreign ministers of Turkmenistan, Turkey and Azerbaijan, meetings that were also attended by senior Turkmen energy officials. The proposed means of supplying the European Union is via the trans-Caspian pipeline, and is heralded as a means by which both the European Union and Turkmenistan could reduce reliance on Russia in the EU’s case and on both Russian and China in the Turkmen case.

It remains to be seen whether or not the pipeline will be seen through to construction. The fact that the pipeline would run through the Caspian Sea, a geopolitically important body of water whose legal status remains largely undefined, could prove complicated if one or more of the littoral states raises objections. Indeed, Turkmenistan had previously raised objections to the pipeline’s construction, though with Ashgabat seemingly now on board, a deal may become more feasible. The new pipeline is tentatively sized at 300 kilometers in length, and would connect with TANAP, a pipeline currently linking Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II natural gas field to the Caspian Sea.

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