Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer arrived in Turkmenistan on October 17th for a visit intended to help jumpstart a stalled pipeline project to transport Turkmen natural gas to Turkey through the Caspian Sea.
A Turkish embassy official said that: “Two rounds of meetings are planned with the Turkmen president. They will discuss the implementation of the project to transport Turkmen gas to Turkey across the Caspian via Azerbaijan and Georgia.”
The U.S.-backed pipeline project suffered a setback after a gas discovery was made off the Azeri coast much closer to the target market.
Turkmenistan has a deal to sell 16 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year to Turkey starting in 2002, but Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov has also agreed to sell 50 bcm of gas per year to Russia and has signed an agreement with Ukraine, making it impossible for the country to eventually contribute the 30 bcm a year to Turkey through the pipeline that it had originally pledged.
The pipeline, which the U.S. sees as key to keeping Russia and Iran from exerting influence in the oil-rich area, was set for completion in 2002.
Azerbaijan announced on October 17th that it has signed an agreement with a group of sponsors to finance a feasibility study for the pipeline to carry Caspian crude to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.
The sponsors are to sign similar agreements with Georgia and Turkey later in the week.