Turkmen gas to EU will bypass Russia

Turkmenistan has promised to deliver 10 billion cubic meters of gas to the EU annually from 2009. The deal would allow Europe to buy gas directly from the Central Asian state, skirting Russia, which signed its own gas deal with Turkmenistan last year.

The deal could ease Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU Commissioner for external relations, told the Financial Times in London that there are three ways to deliver the gas from Turkmenistan to Europe.

Firstly, a mini-pipeline could be built connecting Turkmenistan's rigs to Azerbaijan. Alternatively, a pipeline going through Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan could be laid. The third option is to transport the liquefied gas by sea.

Experts are at a loss as to how Turkmenistan can meet these new commitments because all the country’s gas exports – up to 50 billion cubic metres – are already accounted for until 2028.

At present, Turkmenistan has long-term (25-year) contracts to supply natural gas to Russia and Iran. Moreover, Turkmenistan is building a gas pipeline to China with a capacity of 30 billion cubic meters a year.

Even if the Nabucco pipeline is completed however, it would only supply about 5 percent of Europe's needs.