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Georgia’s Nabucco obsession is impossible without Russia23.04.2009 | 15:46
The Georgian authorities' obsession to run a new Asian-European petroleum pipeline across the country without passing through Russia seems to be close to reality. After the scandal between Turkmenia and Gazprom Ashkhabad has opened his arms to European consumers. The issue of Nabucco's supplier is almost settled. Formalities will be negotiated during a conference under the guidance of UNO in Turkmenia, in Bulgaria on April, 24 and in Czech Republic on May, 8.
Nika Gilauri, the Prime Minister, went to discuss the plans regarding Nabucco and another similar gas pipe project called "White stream" with the Turkmenian government and other participants of the conference, which was named "A sound and stable transit of energy products and its role in providing sustainable development and international cooperation". The Georgian authorities were undoubtedly pleased to be present at the discussion of an anti-Russia project competing with the South stream. In March, when EU adopted a decision to appropriate money for the pipeline construction, President Mikhail Saakashvili stated, with obvious satisfaction, that "The Nabucco project makes the strategic importance of Georgia ten times greater, for the main pipe that will
supply gas to Europe is going to run across Georgia. There is intensive lobbying in European Union regarding this project. It is however clear, which of the countries has spent enormous money to prevent the yesterday's decision from being adopted". The current promotion of the project allowed the Georgian authorities to wag a finger at the opposition: the transit is possible only across a stable country, so stop making a Zoo in front of the parliament.
The issue of a supplier for Nabucco, which is going to expand the existing Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum pipeline as far as Europe, has long been a serious problem. Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkmenia were named among the potential sources of raw materials. However, Teheran, which had been surely longing for such an opportunity, could not joint the project because of the unfriendly Washington's lobby. Besides, Moscow treats its nuclear program quite tolerantly, and Iran can do a favour in response. Since recently, Azerbaijan has also been establishing close contacts with Moscow and is not likely to make any quarrels; at least until the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is settled. But Turkmenia hastily started looking for the ways of diversifying the energy pathways, due to a pipeline explosion, for which it is blaming Gazprom, and also due to Russia reducing the purchased petroleum volumes. It is aiming to ensure stable budget revenue by means of export to Russia, as well as to the West and East. With its annual approximate gas production of 70 milliard cubic meters of gas, Turkmenia has contracts with Russia for the annual supply of 40 milliard cubic meters, is currently constructing a gas pipeline to China, which is designed for 40 milliard cubic meters and is about to promise "blowing" another 30 milliard cubic meters into the Nabucco pipeline. The first step in the western direction was taken by Ashkhabad at the beginning of April, when it signed a long-term contract with RWE, a German energy company.
Will the Turkmenian reserves and gas production facilities be sufficient for all of these projects? Accrording to BP data, the estimated gas reserves of Turkmenistan amount to 2,67 bln of cubic meters as of January 2008, as "Trade" reports. In 2009, the country is planning to produce over 75 mlrd of cubic meters of gas, more than 51 of which is estimated for export. Turkmenistan will not be able to ramp up production on and on, and the amount of gas reserves is doubted by a great number of experts. "We have no idea of the real amount of gas there. We know that Gaffney, Cline & Associates, a British company, has conducted an audit in Turkmenia, but its assessments are highly questionable. The results of the gas audit conducted in Turkmenia quite suspiciously coincide with those announced without any audit to Europeans by Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov, the President of Turkmenia. If they are true, it seems like Turkmenia is opening two Shtokman deposits per week", - Gevorg Mirzayan, a special correspondent for the "Expert" magazine, says.