All the independent countries are being corralled into the NWO with the classic Good Cop Bad Cop dialectic
Eni extends relationship with Turkmenistan
ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan, Nov. 18 (UPI) — Italian energy company Eni said Tuesday it signed an extension to a production agreement for operations onshore and offshore Turkmenistan.Eni Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi signed an addendum to the existing contract in Turkmenistan with his counterparts in Turkmenistan.
The agreement extends the duration of the contract to 2032 and includes a separate agreement for the potential extension of Eni’s operations into the waters of the Caspian Sea.
Eni provided no estimate of the expected reserve benefits of the addendum to its production sharing agreement.
The Central Asian country is one of the largest natural gas producers in the world and exports most of its natural gas to China.
This week, leaders from Afghanistan and Pakistan met in Islamabad to discuss imports through the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline.
Pakistan and India would each get 1.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day and Afghanistan would get 500 million cubic feet of gas per day from the pipeline from Turkmenistan.
Pakistan’s aging infrastructure leaves it short on electricity. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, elected this year, said addressing regional underdevelopment would help both countries succeed.
Since the Dec. 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, relations between Russia and its Caspian neighbor Turkmenistan have ranged from guarded to fairly hostile. Now shared concerns about possible rising instability in Afghanistan following the drawdown of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops there is an agenda for discussion.
On Feb. 3, returning from a visit to China, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov in Ashgabat. Lavrov last visited Ashgabat in April 2013 and Russian President Vladimir Putin and Berdymukhammedov subsequently met on the sidelines of a Caspian regional summit in Astrakhan Russia last Sept. 29.
Lavrov told journalists at a press conference following the meeting, “Our talks with Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov in Ashgabat went well. We discussed the entire range of our bilateral relations, including the political dialogue, which is fairly intensive at the high and highest levels, and our economic and trade cooperation. …We have discussed international affairs, with a focus on Central Asia, Afghanistan, and our cooperation in the UN and the OSCE, including in connection with the forthcoming anniversaries, namely, the 70th anniversary of the victory in WWII, the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act and our other common interests in international formats.”
In Ashgabat’s eyes, when the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan, Russia became the de facto main guarantor of the security of neutral Turkmenistan. It is not only about the security of 460 mile-long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan border, but Turkmen natural gas-producing facilities and pipelines. In the eyes of Russian analysts, Turkmenistan is the most vulnerable part in Eurasia’s security system, as its border with Afghanistan is largely desert. Moreover, unlike Tajikistan, Turkmenistan has no joint border guard service with Russia. While Turkmenistan is unlikely to reject its neutrality because of the possible threat of unrest emanating from Afghanistan, Lavrov’s task is to persuade the Turkmen authorities that, rather than turning to NATO or the U.S. for assistance, asking for Russia’s help will encourage the preservation of its neutrality as Moscow helped Turkmenistan to gain the status.
The rockiness in earlier Russian-Turkmen relations centers on the country’s most valuable asset, its natural gas. During the Soviet era the USSR spun a network of export pipelines, the Truboprovodnaiia sistema Sredniaia Aziia-Tsentr (the Central Asia-Center, or SATS) network, which ran northwards to bring Turkmen gas via Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to the Russian SSR. The SATS eastern branch consists of SATS-1, 2, 4 and 5 pipelines, which were built between 1960 and 1988. Construction began after the discovery of Turkmenistan’s Dzharkak field, with the first SATS section coming online in 1960, while SATS-4 was commissioned in 1973. Not surprisingly, SATS remained Turkmenistan’s sole export for gas exports after 1991, which Gazprom bought cheap and sold dear to European customers.
Infuriated by Moscow’s stinginess, Turkmenistan’s “President for life,” Saparmurat “Turkmenbashi” (“father of the Turkmen”) Nizayov commissioned the 124-mile, $190-million Korpezhe-Kurt Kui pipeline, which opened in December 1997 and supplied Turkmen gas to Iran’s northern provinces. With a capacity of almost 300 billion cubic feet (bcf) per year, Korpezhe-Kurt Kui broke Gazprom’s export monopoly, as it was the first post-Soviet pipeline not under Russian control.
Turkmenistan’s confrontational policies with Gazprom continued after the sudden death of Nizayov in December 2006. Irritated by Moscow’s continued lowballing of prices, the presidents of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan banded together against Gazprom. On March 11, 2008, following a meeting in Moscow between Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and top energy officials from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, Gazprom announced, “based on the interests of the national economies and taking into account international obligations to ensure reliable and uninterrupted energy supplies, beginning in 2009 the sale of natural gas will be made at European price.” Gazprom bided its time to take revenge.
On April 9, 2009, hit by declining sales due to the global recession, Gazprom suddenly and unilaterally reduced its imports of Turkmen gas via the SATS-4 Davletbat-Daryalik pipeline by 90-95 percent. The antiquated Soviet-era network was unable to cope with the sudden pressure diminution and exploded at the SATS-4 302nd-mile segment between the Ilyaly and Deryalyk compressor stations near the Turkmen-Uzbek border, halting Turkmen natural gas exports to Russia, which had been running at 42-45 billion cubic meters (bcm) per annum.
The following day Turkmenistan’s Foreign Ministry blamed Russia for the pipeline explosion and subsequent conflagration that halted the country’s gas exports, stating, “A letter of Gazpromexport about the decrease of the volumes of taking Turkmen natural gas received by the Turkmen side by the end of the day on April 7 cannot be regarded as a preliminary notification, because on April 8 at 11 a.m. the sharp reduction in the volume of natural gas received by the Russian side began.”
But Turkmenistan has not to be cowed, as it had another card to play. Eight months after Gazprom cavalierly turned off the taps, on Dec. 14 2009 China and Turkmenistan formally opened the first section of a 1,139 mile-long, 40 bcm per year natural gas pipeline, financed by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China’s largest oil and gas producer and supplier.
Gazprom, still Turkmenistan’s major customer, was quick to take revenge. When Turkmen natural gas exports to Russia finally resumed in January 2010, they did so at a much lower level, about 10 bcm annually, and at a lower price, which had been roughly $300 per thousand cubic meters (tcm) in the first quarter of 2009 prior to the explosion, to a price less than $200 per tcm through 2010.
While it was not mentioned in the Russian Foreign Ministry’s press announcements, Lavrov certainly discussed the question of possible Turkmen gas exports to Europe via proposed pipelines to Azerbaijan. Gazprom still purchases about 10 bcm of Turkmen annually and Ashkhabad is interested in an increase of gas exports to Russia even though Gazprom would like to stop importing Turkmen gas. Complicating the picture is that the current gas agreement between Russia and Turkmenistan operates until 2028.
Accordingly, if Turkmenistan decides to develop export routes to Europe via Azerbaijan, it will undercut Gazprom’s primacy there, once again complicating Moscow-Ashgabat relations.
Other options outside Russia may also exist for Turkmenistan in dealing with Central Asian unrest, as Washington is also reevaluating its Afghanistan withdrawal plans. Speaking on Feb. 3 during his nomination hearings the U.S. Defense Secretary nominee Ashton Carter said that if the situation does not improve in Afghanistan, the U.S. government would change its plans on withdrawing U.S. troops from there by the end of 2016, stressing that the U.S. troops would not leave if the situation deteriorated by next year.
In a development certain to raise concern in Central Asia, in Kabul on Feb. 4 the Ittehad Ulema-e-Afghanistan (Alliance of Afghan Islamic Scholars) headed by Mufti Mahmud Zakiri has issued a decision entitled “Minal Ulema Illal Ulema (From Scholars to Scholars), demanding that the Rabita-e al-‘Alam-e Eslami (Muslim World League) in Mecca declare jihad in Afghanistan and called on mujaheddin from the Islamic world to support resistance against America. The Rabita-e-Alam-e-Islami was established in 1962 by the King of Saudi Arabia in Mecca to disburse funding and promote Salafi Islam.
Accordingly, 2015 will be a year of great uncertainty for Central Asian stability, a region where Russia is seeking to restore its influence even as the West declares Afghanistan pacified, leaving only a token military presence. By talking to Russia, Turkmenistan is simply broadening its options. And in the end, a final wildcard that Turkmenistan might play in its quest for security may be its largest natural gas customer – China, which in 2014 imported 96 million cubic meters (mcm) of Turkmen gas per day, or 35.04 bcm annually and which plans to raise its imports to 40 bcm/year by 2015 and 65 bcm/year by 2020.
The great question then is – will China stand idly by and see those imports threatened by Afghan mujaheddin waging jihad? Repressing militant Islam is in Russian, Turkmen, U.S. and Chinese interests – if Turkmenistan does become a frontline state, the only question is what allies Turkmenistan will seek for its defense, and what price they might exact for their assistance.