US calls for output from deeper layers of Azeri gas fields
The United States has requested that the Azerbaijani government launch gas production from deeper layers of available fields, a senior US official says.
The US Department of State Eurasian Energy Diplomacy Coordinator, Steven Mann, said Washington was looking to increase output during Phase 2 of developing the gas-condensate field Shahdaniz in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea, in an effort to eliminate European reliance on Russian supplies.
The State Department official said the feasibility of the West-backed NABUCCO pipeline project – a route that will take Caspian gas to European markets by-passing Russia – is being studied and members of a relevant consortium clarified, while no such work is under way on the rival South Stream project backed by Moscow.
Mann said no major problems were in store with filling the NABUCCO pipeline. “Azerbaijan has pledged to contribute gas for the conduit. Work is also under way on the transportation of Turkmenistan’s gas via the route.”
Mann went on to say that Baku and Ashgabat should reach agreement on building a trans-Caspian pipeline to speed up the activities.
The NABUCCO project envisions building a $6 billion, 3,300-km pipeline by 2012 to pump gas from the Caspian region and Central Asia to Europe. The project aims to help European countries diversify supplies of energy and reduce dependence on Russian gas.
As a positive development, the US diplomat pointed to the new Turkmen leader’s allowing foreign energy companies to operate in the country.
He added that exports of Iraqi gas via the pipeline in the future were possible as well.
Mann said the U.S. actually had no intention to use gas produced in the Caspian region. By supporting regional projects, he said, Washington chiefly aims to do away with the dependence of its European partners on the supplies of Russian energy giants Gazprom and Transneft. Another goal pursued by the U.S. is to support the sovereignty of newly-independent states in the region.
“It is for this reason that we are trying to stimulate gas transportation from the Caspian region to Europe in the soonest time possible,” Mann concluded.*