ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Gateway to Central Asia

Central Asia is important for the European Union’s future energy security.

In April this year, a delegation of the European Union (EU) compared to the estimated 500 bcm of natural gas that eu held talks at Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, with countries consume each year; however, it is a preliminary step president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, resulting in an towards diversification of their energy supplies. The foreign agreement that provides for 10 billion cubic metres (bcm) of ministers of the other central Asian states (cas) were also present natural gas annually, starting in 2009. This is minuscule at these discussions and reports disclose that the eu officials also held separate energy-related talks with teams from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, indicating that central Asia (ca) is important for the eu’s future energy security. ca is expected to provide more than 10 per cent of eu’s gas – progressively becoming the most important source of energy for them. These energy dialogues are a result of the adoption last year of an eu strategy on ca, a well-conceived plan that was formulated to develop relations between the eu and the cas.

All central Asian natural gas exports to Europe flow through Russian pipelines, operating under its dictates, as Russia has always tried to take advantage of the pipeline monopoly. eu’s independent access to central Asian gas is therefore doubtful – besides the grip over the Caspian exports, maintaining political hold over the cas is of strategic importance to Russia. Additionally, central Asian gas is vital for honouring Moscow’s own export obligations to the eu, as increasing domestic consumption could lead to export shortfalls. Russia provides about 40 per cent of eu’s natural gas imports, around 150 bcm annually. eu would like to avoid the overdependence on Russia. Currently, eu countries import 57 per cent of their natural gas consumption. Estimates forecast that this proportion will rise to 75 per cent by 2020.

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