Turkmenistan, being an active participant in international energy cooperation, pays great attention to the development of cooperation in the oil and gas sector with various states based on the principles of equal and mutually beneficial partnership, the State News Agency of Turkmenistan (TDH) reports.
As is known, our country has repeatedly come up with initiatives aimed at creating effective mechanisms that ensure reliable and stable supplies of energy carriers to world markets, respecting the interests of all participants in this process: producers, transit countries and consumers of energy.
In this context, Turkmenistan State News Agency correspondent addressed the Deputy Chairman of the State Concern « Turkmengaz » Myrad Archayev with a request to comment on media reports regarding the idea of creating gas unions and alliances, the activity of which may in the future affect the legitimate interests of our country as a participant in major energy projects that have been effectively functioning for a number of years.
M.Archayev: Indeed, on August 11 of this year, a number of mass media disseminated a statement by Dmitry Birichevsky, Director of the Economic Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, regarding the so-called « tripartite gas alliance » with the participation of Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. According to him, Russia does not rule out « the possibility of expanding trilateral cooperation in the gas sector » and knows « that other states are also showing interest in it. »
Mr.Birichevsky’s statement raises at least a few questions. What “opportunities for expansion” are we talking about, what “other states” are showing interest in them, what, in principle, is behind the “trilateral cooperation” in the gas sector? The streamlined language used by the Russian diplomat does not provide answers to them. Moreover, complete clarity is required here, since the interests of other states, including Turkmenistan, are affected.
As is known, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and China have been cooperating for a long time on the transportation of natural gas from Central Asia to the People’s Republic of China, with clearly agreed volumes, terms, economic and technical parameters.
Currently, there are three branches of the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline through which gas is supplied from Turkmen fields in the east and southeast of the country. All three lines, the production facilities that ensure their operation, were jointly built exclusively by the Turkmen and Chinese sides – respectively, the State Concern « Turkmengas » and the Chinese oil and gas company CNPC. Today, Turkmenistan is the largest supplier of gas through this pipeline: out of the total agreed supply of 55 billion cubic meters per year, 40 billion cubic meters is contracted by Turkmenistan, and the rest are provided by Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
There are no sources of gas from other countries to fill the pipeline, and the existing scheme for distributing gas volumes supplied to China does not include plans to expand the number of participants in the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline project.
It should be noted that Turkmenistan strictly adheres to its obligations to Chinese, Uzbek and Kazakh partners. And legitimately counts on reciprocity.
It is also obvious that any changes in the agreed and formalized volumes and schemes of gas supplies, using the existing infrastructure, require prior approval from all participants without exception. Meanwhile, no consultations were held with Turkmenistan on this issue. Such an approach is incomprehensible and unacceptable for the Turkmen side, and is considered by our country as inconsistent with the norms of international law and practice in the gas sector.
In this context, Turkmenistan is seriously concerned about the statements of official representatives that in one way or another affect the international obligations of our country, and may sow confusion and speculation about their implementation by other participants.
As a responsible state, Turkmenistan proceeds from the fact that international cooperation, including in such an important segment as energy supplies, should be based on open and clear criteria, mutual respect and consideration of interests and strict observance of the agreements reached. Fluctuations in the external economic environment cannot serve as a reason to change these principles, the State News Agency of Turkmenistan report says.