Turkmenistan denies knowledge of building gas pipeline to Europe

10:02, 31 January 2008
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Ukrainian PM proposed to build a new White Stream gas pipeline

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko presented a proposal for a new White Stream gas pipeline, to be an alternative to the Nabucco line, while in Brussels – reported  Kommersant yesterday. Turkmenistan dismissed Ukrainian remarks on Wednesday that a pipeline linking the gas-rich Central Asia with Europe would be built, reports from Turkmenistan’s capital Ashgabat said, according to the Budapest Business Journal.

White Stream would move 31 billion cubic meters of Central Asian gas across the Caspian and Black Seas and Ukraine to Europe, saving $2 billion. The Nabucco pipeline will begin at the Caspian Sea and cross Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Black Sea, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria. That is a distance of 3300 kilometer.

Its construction will cost ?5 billion and its capacity will be 31 billion cubic meters. The EU is to pay most of the construction cost this year. The Ukrainian proposal is to begin a pipeline with the same capacity at the Caspian Sea and route it through Georgia and the Crimea to Europe.

Observers are skeptical of Timoshenko’s proposal. Yury Boiko, deputy chairman of the Ukrainian Supreme Rada’s Committee on the Heating and Fuel Complex, noted that the proposal had not been subject to serious evaluation. He also noted that Ukraine’s gas transit record is not ideal in Europe. Boiko and others suggested that stability and independence are worth more to Europe, than the money Timoshenko’s proposal would save.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Turkmenistan does not have the slightest idea about the “White Stream” project and finds it hard to understand why some countries would make premature statements about it. In her first foreign trip to Brussels this week after her cabinet was approved by parliament in December, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko indicated the possibility of building a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to the EU via the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea. Some high-ranking officials of other countries made similar remarks earlier. The statement said that as the usual international practice, energy exporting countries could unveil such a cross-country project only when they have reached consensus with all concerned parties.

Turkmenistan, one of the world’s major natural gas exporters, boasts a projected gas reserve of some 24.6 trillion cubic meters.

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