EU SEEKS TO TAP GAS FROM TURKEY AND AZERBAIJAN
BRUSSELS energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs heads for Turkey and Azerbaijan today in search of gas for European Union.
Mr Piebalgs will meet with presidents and ministers in an attempt to funnel the region"s reserves towards an energy-dependent Europe desperate to diversify away from reliance upon Russian hydrocarbons.
The European Commission hinted yesterday that the commissioner would be seeking promises that Baku will commit reserves of up to 9bn cu m one of Europe"s priority gas pipeline projects, in particular the trans-Turkey Nabucco pipeline.
?Our interest is that a European consortium gets it,? said a commission director on condition of anonymity. Russia is also looking to transport Azerbeijan"s gas towards its own Gazprom network. The final decision from the Baku government is expected early next year.
Even if Europe does win in Azerbeijan, the future of the Nabucco pipeline is not guaranteed, the commission says. The Nabucco plan foresees 15bn cu m of gas in the first phase alone, which means Europe will be casting its net wider still.
Turkmenistan is fast climbing up the agenda, following the discovery of larger than expected reserves ? up to 14trn cu m.
?Even the Russian newspapers are saying that there is enough gas for the Nabucco pipeline now,? said the commission director, referring to previous Russian doubts that there was simply not enough gas to go around given the number of pipeline projects on the table.
Further afield still, Europe is eyeing Iraq"s gas. The Iraqi prime minister has visited Brussels on more than one occasion over the last year to express his country"s willingness to be hooked up to the European network, though this is still thought to be ten years away. Iranian gas is still very much off the table, the commission underlines.
In Ankara, Brussels will try to get the local government to give up its demand for a share ? 15% ? of the Nabucco gas to be held back for domestic consumption.
This requirement was a ?deal-breaker,? the commission director said, and contravened European Union law, which insists pipeline transit prices be market-based. Turkey, an EU applicant country, is also facing gas supply shortfalls.
Mr Piebalgs will be in the region until the end of the week.