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Gas suppliers refused from alliance
"Turkmen leader has all bases to be courage statements"

Russia's initiative on creation of the Eurasian Union of natural gas exporters was reacted by other gas developing states without any initiative. Thus, in its dialogue with the European Union Russia can count on its resources only. It is not expected that Russia would be assisted by other states in case if the deficit of natural gas threats the domestic market.

Gas liberals

Talks about possible joining of natural gas exporters states has started in the beginning of the year, when the problem of forwarding the nation legislation of member states for membership to the European Union within the European gas legislation (almost all the states of Eastern, South-Eastern Europe and Baltic states) occurred. For the main almost the only natural gas supplier for these states is Gasprom, this very company is threaten with the most tangible losses from the demand on demonopolization of market, which will take place after EC expansion to EC in 2004. In 2005 market of natural gas delivery to Europe must be liberalized. Negotiations on this problem were held within the framework of energy dialogue between Russia and European Union in late May. As a result of talks serious discords were fixed between the sides. For today the gas export of Russia makes 22% only, in the future it can be lessened, for in 2007 Russia will face a 30 / 150 billion cubic meters of natural gas deficit for local consumer markets. Therefore Russia's proposal to Europe to form an alliance of gas suppliers is not serious.

Gas producers working independently

One of the states Russia was intending to attract to "gas OPEC" was Norway.

However, the Norwegian energy minister Einar Steensnes categorically refuted possible joining of Norway to the gas alliance. "Norway is satisfied with the current situation of gas market in Europe", the minister explained.

Another potential partner for Russia could be Algeria. But the Algerian leadership refused the Russian proposal referring to a rather complicated situation in its gas industry. Presently Algeria has started privatization process of its oil and gas companies Sonatrach, therefore gas projects Okhamet and Amenas are developing speedily. Regardless problems with domestic policy they make sizable investments, import technologies and buy gas for hard currency, necessary for economic reforms in the state. Therefore Algeria is not going to have problems with EU, for according to Algerian side Russia suggests nothing precise instead.

Persian Gulf states did not react on the initiative to create organization of gas exporters. In fact any of Arab states consider this proposal seriously, moreover most of the regional states are engaged in gas projects with participation of European companies. Russia could count on more favorable attitude to the project from Iran, but the separate agreement signed with Kazakhstan on delimitation of the continental shelf Caspian Sea caused irritation and harsh critics of Tehran. Kazakhstan will enter "Gas OPEC" The Russian initiative in the former USSR may be accepted in somewhat different way. Although they do not much believe in possible creation of alliance, but can use the initiative of Russia for reaching concession regarding ways to the European market. Common position of gas processing Central Asia was voiced during the April Caspian summit by the Turkmen president Saparmurat Niyazov who announced talks about cration of gas alliance are nonsense until "the ways to the gas markets are open and the membership of alliance and price policy is fixed. Thus, Russia was hinted that it needs to drop prices for transit of gas to Europe via Russia.

The Turkmen leader has all rights to make such statements for it is well informed about the situation in gas sphere of Russia. Moreover, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan could soon have other opportunities for export of natural gas, via Afghanistan to Pakistan for example (TransAfghan pipeline), via Iran or Azerbaijan to Turkey (TransCaspian project). Thus, Turkmenistan would not have problems with transportation of its natural gas to Europe. Cooperation with Kazakhstan is on better stage. A new alliance Moscow-Astana is formed regarding the Caspian sea problem and in gas cooperation. While signing with Kazakhstan separate agreement on the Caspian Sea Russian agreed to provide a transport corridor for Kazaskh gas to Europe. Thus, Russia is making the first step for creation of "gas OPEC". Although, this alliance could be bilateral, but it can become a lever for influence on other gas producers of CIS. As for Azerbaijan it did not react to the Russian proposal. It prefers the Southern Turkish gas transportation corridor.

"Oil and gas vertical"

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By Stanislav Roginskiy

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