The Russian publication Kavkaz’s Vestnik published an interview with the political scientist Heinrich Schultz, in which the expert shared his thoughts on the possibility of gas delivery from Central Asia to Europe, and the challenges facing the gas policy of Turkmenistan.
In particular, the expert drew attention to the fact that according to British Petroleum, Turkmenistan holds the world's 4rth largest gas reserves. The expert explains the ending from the beginning of 2016 the import of Turkmen gas to Russia that Russia is no longer the need to import significant volumes of gas from Central Asia for the reason that gas production alternative to Gazprom enterprises in Russia in recent years has increased significantly. Also, according to Schulz, the question remains, how long will supplies of Turkmen gas to Iran. The expert believes that after the lifting of sanctions with Iran can be assumed that the continued active development of gas production in Iran.
In this situation, the German expert drew attention to the growing intensity of the Turkmen-Chinese gas cooperation. Turkmenistan began exporting gas to China in 2009, since then increasing the volume of deliveries up to 28 billion cubic meters of gas (as of 2015). In subsequent years, is expected to bring the total exports to 65 billion cubic meters of gas. Accordingly, for the foreseeable future Turkmenistan obviously has ensured the implementation of its gas exports to China, said in an interview to the Russian edition by H. Schultz.
However, in this aspect, the expert warns about risks to get into complete dependence on Chinese partners. On the one hand, Schultz admits that China may use its privileged position of the exclusive importer to negotiate for lower gas prices. On the other hand, the expert does not rule out future possibilities of the economic crisis in China, which can greatly reduce the Chinese demand for gas.
In this respect, according to Schulz, Turkmenistan should continue its efforts to diversify, and to consider also the prospect of gas export to Europe. The expert says that in the framework of the working visit of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in Berlin at the end of August this year, during which he met with Chancellor Angela Merkel, among other topics was discussed and the question of energy supplies from Turkmenistan to the European Union.
As stressed by H. Schultz, the Turkmen President noted Turkmenistan's interest in exporting natural gas to the EU. In the past, also the European Commission has repeatedly expressed interest in energy supplies from Turkmenistan.
However, according to experts, taking into account the situation on the European gas market that still remains oversupplied, development of spot gas supplies and the need to overcome obstacles in the creation of transport infrastructure, the German expert draws attention to the timely commitment of the Turkmen government to focus on alternative projects. Here you can mention the plans of Turkmenistan on development of the petrochemical industry. Further processing of energy raw materials contributes to the expansion of the value chain and diversifying the economy. Besides, these products are relatively easy to export, emphasizes H. Schultz.
Interestingly, for some reason, the German expert in an interview didn't express his views on the gas pipeline project Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India with a capacity of 33 billion cubic meters of gas per year. From December 2015 the construction of the Turkmen section of the TRANS-Afghanistan pipeline, and by 2020, the entire pipeline is planned to put into operation that will bring significant socio-economic benefits not only to the countries participating in the project, but also the region as a whole.