The head of Germany's second largest electricity and gas company, RWE AG, hailed Turkmenistan's "promising" market and expressed a readiness for "constructive interaction in the energy sphere" during a visit to Ashgabat, news agencies report. This visit is raising speculation about Turkmen intentions to participate in the long-planned trans-Caspian and Nabucco pipeline projects.
Following a meeting with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov in Ashgabat on January 7, the Itar-Tass news agency quoted the German executive, Jurgen Grossman, as saying that German companies had a "deep interest in giving greater scope" to working in Turkmenistan.
Commenting on the meeting with Grossman and other German executives, Berdymukhamedov, who visited Germany and Austria late last year, said that a "very constructive dialogue between our two sides is taking shape here." [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
Grossman's visit to the Turkmen capital followed a late December announcement by RWE that it had partnered with the Austrian energy concern OMV to form the Caspian Energy Company Ltd (CEC). According to a RWE statement, CEC will "explore comprehensive infrastructure solutions that will link the vast gas resources of the Caspian region to Europe."
"CEC will shortly commence a detailed analysis into gas transport infrastructure options that could provide Europe with access to natural gas from the Eastern side of the Caspian Sea. Based on the study's outcome, the CEC will then enter into the development, construction, ownership and operation of gas transport systems across the Caspian Sea," the statement added.
The statement indicated that Turkmen energy extracted and shipped across the Caspian could then feed into an existing pipeline network originating in Azerbaijan and travel across the South Caucasus to Turkey. Such a route would circumvent Russia, which currently has a stranglehold over Turkmenistan's natural gas exports.
From Turkey, the RWE statement said, Turkmen gas would be shipped via a "Southern Gas Corridor, adding that the Nabucco pipeline would "form the backbone" of the new export route to European Union states. Turkmenistan has long expressed interest in participating in a trans-Caspian pipeline project, but to date has made no formal commitment to such a venture. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].