Russia seems to have lost its lobbying battle in Europe for its South Stream pipeline carrying gas and against rival Nabucco, which is planned to run from Azerbaijan via Turkey to the European markets. At present, Moscow seeks as a last resort to negate the availability of gas supplies to the Nabucco project in the Caspian basin.
Azerbaijan has always been famous for its oil industry. In the last four years, it has been strengthening its position in gas exports. Azerbaijan's gas exports are as important as its oil and oil products. Proof of this can be seen in the recent signing of extentions to the contract for Azerbaijani gas supplies to Russia. They involve a doubling of fuel supply up to two billion cubic meters in 2011 and a further increase in 2012.
The European Commission will study a Russian-Polish gas deal to make sure it complies with European Union legislation, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on following a meeting with Poland's President Bronislaw Komorowski.
Turkey and Azerbaijan have proven unable to conclude their negotiations on natural gas cooperation, which have been in progress for over one year. Turkish-Azeri gas talks include several issues involving the revision of the price Turkey pays for its imports from Shah Deniz-I, the determination of the volume and price for its imports from Shah Deniz-II, and agreement on the volume and conditions for the transit of Azeri exports to Europe through Turkish territory.
In 2010, Azerbaijan will produce over 28 billion cubic meters of gas, the republic will have free volume of fuel for export. Along with the traditional markets of gas sale such as Georgia and Turkey, this year Azerbaijan starts supplying gas to new markets - Russia and Iran.
Can a deal struck with the EU help the plight of Turkmen – or are we only interested in their country's gas?
Turkey can play a key role in overcoming existing hurdles to the realization of the Nabucco pipeline project, which will augment Europe’s energy security. In return the EU should assist Turkey on its path to EU membership.
“We are interested in exporting our resources through different routes,” Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev stated during his visit to Bulgaria on November 13. On the same day, he paid a short working visit to Sofia to meet his counterpart Georgi Parvanov and to sign an inter-governmental agreement on the transit of Azeri gas to Europe though the Black Sea. This was the third agreement signed with a foreign country during the past month. Previous agreements were signed with Russia and Iran. Analysts believe that these latest developments hint at Baku’s plans to diversify its export options and reduce its dependence on the so-called “Turkish route”.
White Stream, the proposed gas pipeline from Georgia to Romania on the seabed of the Black Sea, is intended to maximize European gas imports from Central Asia through the E.U.-initiated Southern Corridor. The Corridor grand design spans Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and –with White Stream– also a maritime route to European Union territory via the Black Sea. At its other end, the Southern Corridor is premised on a trans-Caspian link to Turkmenistan for massive European imports of Central Asian gas.
One of his first foreign visits as new President took Barack Obama to Ankara for a high-profile meeting with Prime Minister Recep Erdogan and other leading Turkish officials. Obama engaged in classical “horse trading” wheeling and dealing. “I give you support for Turkey’s EU membership; you open the diplomatic door to Armenia,” appears to have been the core of the deal. What other inducements the US President gave in the case of Turkish influence within NATO and such is secondary. Obama’s goal was to break a political deadlock in Turkey to construction of a major gas pipeline to Germany and other EU countries in direct opposition to Russian Gazprom’s South Stream pipeline.