Shell expresses confidence in gas pipeline
Royal Dutch Shell expressed confidence on Tuesday in the future of a proposed Trans-Caspian gas pipeline to Turkey costing two billion dollars (2.35 billion euros) despite a decision by a key US partner to close its offices here.
"Shell still remains committed to the Trans-Caspian pipeline project and stands ready to develop it once the political will is there to make it happen," a Shell spokesman said.
The PSG consortium, consisting of General Electric and Bechtel, announced on Monday that it would close its offices in Ashkhabad owing to uncertainty over the project. Shell will now take a leading role in moving the proposal forwards and PSG will have to decide whether to rejoin the project once it reaches the implementation stage, the spokesman said.
Shell will remain in Ashkhabad and PSG will stay inside the pipeline consortium with Shell, said the spokesman. Both have a 50-percent stake in the project. The Trans-Caspian pipeline to take gas from Turkmenistan to Turkey over a distance of 2,000 kilometres (1,250 miles), and at a cost of two billion dollars, has been heavily backed by the United States as a way of lessening Turkmenistan's dependence on Iran and Russia.
But the project has been subject to months of delay as Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov was apparently unhappy about the financial terms of the deal. Niyazov dealt the project a blow in May when he agreed to send huge amounts of gas to Russia, which would leave little gas for the competing Trans-Caspian pipeline.
However, Moscow and Ashkhabad have yet to agree a price for the gas. Niyazov's bargaining position suffered a setback last year when Azerbaijan, which is closer to Turkey, discovered substantial deposits of gas at its Shah Deniz field.
The Wall Street Journal in August suggested Niyazov now wished to pursue the pipeline project out of fear that Azerbaijan, Russia and Iran would swipe the chance to export gas to Turkey from under his feet.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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