Turkmenistan signals openness to new gas export routes

Nov 28, 2008 01:00 AM

Energy-rich Turkmenistan hopes to find new export routes for its natural gas, its president said, in a sign that the central Asian country may be seeking to lower its dependence on Russia.
"We support an open doors policy and the diversification of our hydrocarbon export routes," Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said after meeting his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev.

The Turkmen leader said that on matters of energy resources, his country had a "shared opinion" with Azerbaijan, a country that exports oil and gas to the West through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which bypasses Russia.
In recent years the West has sought greater access to Turkmenistan's gas reserves, which rank among the largest in the world.

The European Union and the US have lobbied for a pipeline under the Caspian Sea that would bypass Russia, which is currently the top buyer of Turkmen gas. Russia re-exports much of that gas to Europe.
But Turkmenistan has pursued closer direct ties with the West since Berdymukhamedov came to power after the 2006 death of long-time dictator Saparmurat Niyazov. The country is to host a summit between Berdymukhamedov, Aliyev and Turkish President Abdullah Gul.

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