ALEKSEY MILLER INTERESTED NOT ONLY IN GAS IN TURKMENISTAN
One of the most unexpected results of a regular working visit to Turkmenistan by Gasprom's board chairman Aleksey Miller has been an agreement on the Russian company's participation in exploration of fields in the Turkmen sector of the Caspian Sea, and not only as regards gas but also oil fields.
What is interesting is that Gasprom announced the launch of a large oil producing company within the concern's structure on the eve of Miller's visit to Ashgabat. It is not ruled out that the new company of a gas giant will be the one to sign a PSA with the government of Turkmenistan on one or several blocks in the Turkmen sector of the Caspian Sea in the near future.
Yet, the main topic of talks of Gasprom's delegation in Ashgabat was issues related to oil and gas. After a meeting with President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov Aleksey Miller told journalists that his conversation with the Turkmen leader was constructive and productive. According to him the talks concentrated predominantly on new steps to implement a 25-year bilateral accord signed in April 2003.
"As of April 9, Turkmenistan has supplied 1,1 bcm of gas to Russia, Miller said. All in all we have to purchase 5 bcm of gas by the end of this year, and we have no doubts that the supplies will be carried out in full. And today a great amount of near work is being done with the aim into the future. We work closely with our Turkmen colleagues on issues related to increasing the transit capacities. Our concern's office, which was recently opened in Ashgabat, has also set about implementing this task, and we are going to employ Turkmen specialists as experts on this issues."
As the head of Gasprom pointed out, progress of pre-designing and pre-investment works on the program of reconstruction, expansion and construction of new facilities of the Central Asia - Center gas transportation system was in the center of discussion. There was reached an agreement on speeding up the development of an "end-to-end" study of investments along the entire system. According to Aleksey Miller this document has to be submitted to all parties of the transit network by this fall.
The fact that the Turkmen side attaches great importance to this issue is proved by Saparmurat Niyazov's statement cited by ITAR-TASS. "Establishment of a reliable gas transportation system is a major element of the implementation of a 25-year Turkmen-Russian accord", the Turkmen leader said at the meeting with Aleksey Miller.
"Turkmenistan, as a seller, and Russia and Ukraine, as purchasers, are equally interested in the soonest possible and optimal solution of issues related to the reconstruction of the existing gas transportation system", the Turkmen leader believes.
Currently, the throughput of the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan-Russia gas main, built some 30 years ago, is merely 45 bcm a year. Under one-year contracts it should carry 36 bcm of gas to Ukraine and 5 bcm to Russia in 2004. Gasprom intends to increase gas purchases to 25-30 bcm a year in 2005-2006. And in 2007 this amount is to reach 60-70 bcm of gas. Furthermore, it is planned to raise annual supplies of Turkmen gas to Russia up to 80 bcm a year. With this in mind, the reconstruction project of the gas pipeline envisages increasing its throughput 2,2 times to 100 bcm a year.
As Aleksey Miller said after the meeting, "Gasprom and Turkmenistan will hold a conference this fall in Moscow, where the sides will present information on the progress and perspective plans in the bilateral cooperation in the oil and gas field".
According to estimations of independent observers the Russian-Turkmen partnership in the gas field, which is gaining momentum, will not only provide huge economic benefits to both countries but can become an important factor of the regional geopolitics.