Azerbaijan is prepared to take part in the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline project as a transit country, head of State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOCAR) Rovnag Abdullayev told the press on Wednesday.
"The Trans-Caspian gas pipeline is not an Azerbaijani project, but a Turkmen and European Union project. Azerbaijan is for now playing the role of observer. After the two parties agree among themselves, we will look at the opportunities and conditions upon which we might offer our territory for the transit of gas through this gas pipeline," Abdullayev said.
Azerbaijan is not acting as a partner in the implementation of the project. "There is no Azerbaijani gas in this project or any other Azerbaijani interests there," the SOCAR chief said.
This project involves the laying of pipeline across the Caspian Sea floor from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan. Down the road, the pipeline could be integrated with the Nabucco system intended to move gas from the Caspian region to Europe through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey. Russia and Iran take a dim view of this, arguing that the Sea's legal status has not been decided and that there is a great risk to the environment.
As reported, Azerbaijan is intensively working to prepare an intergovernmental agreement on the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline project, Azerbaijani Industry and Energy Minister Natik Aliyev said in February. "We are conducting regular meetings with European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger on this project," he said, adding that Turkmenistan has also become more active on the matter, meeting with Azerbaijan on a regular basis.
"Two important documents are being put together, which we hope to prepare this year. This project's implementation could ultimately boost Azerbaijan's role as a transit country for ensuring Europe's energy security," Aliyev said. With regards to possible obstacles in carrying out the project due to the Caspian Sea's unresolved status, "we said from the very beginning that this project will be implemented by two states within their national sectors," he said.
Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov said this week that decisions concerning the Caspian Sea and made without consideration of the views of its five littoral states are unacceptable. "Decisions made about how to use the Caspian Sea without the consideration of the opinions of all the Caspian states and with the involvement of associations, in this case the European Union, which is totally distant from these places, are unacceptable," Lavrov said during an address presented at Yerevan State University on Monday. The foreign minister also offered comments on the desires of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and the EU to lay the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline without the views of other coastal states being taken under advisement.
At the present time, the five Caspian littoral countries - Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan - are striving towards a new agreement on the body of water's legal status, but the work is going pretty slowly.
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(Originally published April 4, 2012, in Russia & CIS General Newswire.)