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"Gas OPEC" project more likely dead than alive
Turkmenistan received another cause for cutting prices for fuel for Russia

Gasprom made attempts to reach accords with Turkmenistan on purchasing natural gas in Turkmenistan. Over the past several months the delegation of the Russian monopoly visited Ashkhabad at least twice. However, authorities of Turkmenistan still insist on prices that are too high for Russia. Meanwhile, now they have more grounds for discords. Recently, the Asian Development Bank announced about its intention to allocate USD 1.5 million for studying the route of the gas main from Turkmenistan to Pakistani Arabian sea via Afghanistan. Such decision is hardly able to bring optimism to Gazprom, which is going to start research activity on the project of construction of a gas main from Iran to India via the territory of Pakistan. It was Ashkhabad, which in early 90th had generated an idea of export of the Turkmen gas. However, way via Russia to West was initially closed -the Russian Gazprom naturally was not interested in competition, therefore the Turkmen gas is not being supplied to the Western markets. That very period of time Turkmenbashi initiated a project on setting an alternative route - to the Indian ocean.

If the final decision to be made by the Asian Development Bank on September 20 is positive the authorities of the state will gain another point for contacts with Russia - we failed to sign agreement on cooperation in gas sphere. The qualitative parameters of this agreement were accorded yet in mid 2001. Interaction of the both states in gas sphere supposed joint exploration of fields on the territory of Turkmenistan, as well as delivery of gas to Russia starting this year. The volume of purchase had to reach from 2 billion cubic meters in 2002 to 80 billion cubic meters in 2012. While during the first five years Russia was planning to buy at least 10 billion cubic meters of gas from Turkmenistan.

However, by the end of this year, when the presidents of the both states met they had failed to agree on final prices for Turkmen gas and the intergovernmental gas agreement was frozen again. Presumably, Gazprom as well failed to solve the price problem independently. While speaking about the visits of the representatives of the Russian companies the Turkmen authorities make some caustic remark remarks saying that they understand concerns of the Russian monopoly - for providing contract deliveries of gas planned for winter, Ukraine need to have enough reserves of fuel. However, the state is interested in signing only long term contracts, foreseen for delivery of al least 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually.

Nevertheless, it should be reminded that at the January meeting between Niyazov and Putin the presidents hinted that the main term for signing a long term agreement is creation of so-called "gas OPEC" - an organization, which would unite gas producers in Russia and Asian states. However, Ashkhabad hinted that it is not going to give up the perspectives of somewhat misty bilateral cooperation with Russia for more misty future alliance, participants, aims and markets of which are not defined yet.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta

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