"In another six months, European gas companies may well have lined up sufficient alternative sources of natural gas such that they are not interested in negotiating with Ashgabat. Turkmenistan needs to approach European gas companies, and, of course, SOCAR, which is the obvious intermediary," Allan Mustard said.
Amid global economic instability, Azerbaijan’s mitigating role in energy crisis is rapidly increasing. With Azerbaijan and the EU agreeing on doubling the supplies of Azerbaijani gas by 2027, the country’s gas exports to Europe are expected to be 20 bcm, while this year at least 11.6 bcm is planned to be supplied. Moreover, Azerbaijan’s total gas exports this year are expected at 24 bcm.
President Ilham Aliyev, commenting on Azerbaijan’s energy resources export potential, said that "Azerbaijan's fields will supply gas to international markets for at least another 100 years, i.e. as technologies develop, production opportunities will increase. Therefore, 2.6 trillion cubic meters is the confirmed minimum volume of our potential".
However, Azerbaijan is always eager to engage in other promising initiatives. A potential expansion of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) via the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline from Turkmenistan can significantly increase gas supply to Europe with Azerbaijan being the centerpiece.
As President Ilham Aliyev noted, "this project can be economically viable, but a feasibility study is required, of course. This must be confirmed. Contracts must be signed with the owners of gas and its price stipulated. Because the longer the distance, the higher the cost. But we have always given political support to this project. If we are approached about this project, we will do our best to help".
Turkmenistan should seize this opportunity now, because the window of opportunity for attracting foreign investment in any fossil-fuel projects, irrespective of size, is closing, Allan Mustard, co-founder and co-head of the Trans-Caspian Resources energy startup, Former US Ambassador to Turkmenistan, told Trend.
According to the ambassador, Europe needs to replace something between 55 and 70 billion cubic meters of natural gas that used to come from Russia, and realistically that must come from a multitude of sources.
"In another six months, European gas companies may well have lined up sufficient alternative sources of natural gas such that they are not interested in negotiating with Ashgabat. Turkmenistan needs to approach European gas companies, and, of course, SOCAR, which is the obvious intermediary," he said.
Trans-Caspian Resources, in this case, can assemble an international consortium that will raise funds to finance and construct one or more short connector pipelines, the ambassador added.
"Time is of the essence, which was made clear by the European Commission's recent statement on the need for energy this year. Turkmengas, Turkmenoil, and the oil platform operators should be empowered by presidential decree to negotiate with SOCAR, Türkiye, and Trans-Caspian Resources on making this project happen," he stressed.
Mustard noted that, at the same time, for this project to work out, the West must be ready to make a massive investment of several billion dollars in fossil fuel infrastructure, particularly since it would be completed and in service only after several years.
Overall, there is a great potential for Azerbaijan’s cooperation with Central Asian countries in the energy field. Aside from the obvious prospects for cooperation in hydrocarbons - Kazakhstan’s oil and Turkmenistan’s gas - there is great potential for generation of electricity from renewable sources, the ambassador added.
Clearly, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan have immense potential to bring their cooperation to a whole new level.
This farsighted strategy has made it possible for Azerbaijan to be considered as a reliable, high-valued partner. Now, the EU is ready to enter into serious negotiations with Azerbaijan. Times, when the SGC was of second importance, are gone. Today, the enormous capacities that Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea have, especially regarding the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), and the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP), are being recognized.