On November 7th, Turkmenistan announced that it had resumed natural gas supplies to Ukraine and had renewed talks with Pakistan on building a gas pipeline in an apparent effort to solidify its position as a key energy supplier.
Turkmenistan had ceased gas shipments to Ukraine in May 1999, demanding payment of $315.5 million for energy supplied from January to May 1999. On October 4th, Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma signed an agreement that Kiev would make weekly payments of $7 million in cash and $9 million in goods in return for 240 million cubic meters of Turkmen gas per week.
The price of the gas has been fixed at $38 per 1,000 cubic meters for 2000 and $40 for 2001.
In total, Turkmenistan will supply Ukraine with 5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas in 2000 and 30 bcm next year. Pakistani leader General Pervez Musharraf in turn met with Niyazov on November 6th to discuss constructing a pipeline linking Turkmenistan and Pakistan.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said that: “We welcomed the opportunity for very substantive conversations between the two leaders. We continue to hope that we can build a pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan.”
Turkmenistan hopes to be in a position to capitalize on its massive gas reserves, but lacks viable export routes and is largely forced to export to other ex-Soviet countries, which are often late with payments.
The country also lacks access to southern markets due to continued strife in Afghanistan, and international interest in funding a pipeline through the war-torn country has been limited.
Still, Turkmenistan and Pakistan are hoping that peace talks between the Taliban and the northern alliance in Afghanistan will bring greater stability to the region, allowing Turkmenistan to export gas to Pakistan, which would like to become a bridge between energy-rich Central Asia and South Asia’s growing markets