Turkmengas turns to Europe in search for new export markets

Turkmenistan may start shipping  natural gas to Eastern Europe through Russia, a senior Turkmengas  official said last week, in a further twist in the increasingly complicated game of pipeline politics unfolding between Moscow, Central Asia  and Brussels.
Turkmenistan’s attempts to find new markets for its gas exports  through a network of pipelines on Russian soil has been prompted, ironically, by Gazprom’s confirmation in April that that it would no longer be importing Turkmen gas after the two sides failed to find a resolution to a long-running  price dispute. The Russian energy giant promptly signed a five-year contract with Uzbekistan instead, effectively leaving China as Turkmenistan’s sole export customer, after it also stopped pumping gas to Iran, claiming  that Iran had failed to pay its bills. For their part, Iran’s  state energy managers have accused Ashgabat  of breaching the terms of their contract.
But it is the loss of Russia as a client that is being felt most acutely by Turkmengas. Gazprom used to buy up to 40 bcm of  Turkmenistan’s total annual output of 70 bcm, with China importing just over 29.4bcm of the remainder.
“We have a working system of pipelines running in the northern direction through which Turkmenistan historically exported natural gas to Russia and other CIS countries,” Turkmen gas CEO Myrat Archayev told an energy conference in Ashgabat.“If mutually acceptable agreements are achieved with buyers and transit countries, this existing pipeline could be used to ship natural gas from Turkmenistan to CIS countries and Eastern Europe.”
Given the bad blood that the price dispute has engendered between Gazprom and Turkmengas and the lack of any indication that the idea of using Russian pipelines to export gas to the EU has even been discussed with Moscow let alone approved, his remarks  would appear to add to growing signs that Turkmenistan’s flagship industry is struggling with the impact of a drop in oil prices which has  also led to delays in the construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline that will eventually open up new markets to its south.
Even its ability to increase supplies to  China were recently  been put in doubt after Uzbekistan announced the indefinite suspension of construction work on Line D of the  gas pipeline  that is scheduled to run  from  Turkmenistan  to China across Uzbek territory.  Deprived of  additional capacity, it will be increasingly difficult for Turkmengas to increase  export volumes eastwards
This April, tensions bubbled  to the surface when Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow sacked  Energy Minister Yashigeldy Kakayev for failing to keep the industry under control and replaced  him with former Turkmengas CEO Maksat Babayev,

Source: AKIpress