The board of the second president of Turkmenistan is more and more like a blitzkrieg. Still, in less than six months his trip to Saudi Arabia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran was nearing his visit to China, except for the presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan held in Turkmenistan and the visits of a huge number of foreign officials are smaller. Of all the number, only a visit to Saudi Arabia was of a ritual nature - in order to sacrifice their own power, the new president needed to make a small haj in his new capacity.
But all other visits and receptions were and will be in the foreseeable future, a pronounced gas color. Almost all the visitors and counterparts of the new Turkmen president tried to somehow look deeper into his eyes with the hope of finding out how much gas there is in Turkmenistan and where this gas will be directed to the new owner of the country. But the new owner promised to comply with the old contracts, and he repeated everything to the proposals for new ones: "... let's see, your offer is very interesting, but you need to think ...". And the guests, like matchmakers to the capricious bride, all continue to arrive. And then the new president broke through. One day he signed a declaration on the construction of a new branch of the Caspian gas pipeline and immediately declared his commitment to the “multi-variant” route of the new gas pipelines — to China, at least, to India with Pakistan. But the most interesting thing is that by this he managed to step on his guest, the Russian president, on a sore spot, saying that the project of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline with a continuation to Europe "competing with the Russian monopoly" has not been removed from the agenda. Well, what is not a capricious bride, filling her own worth!
At the same time, the main principle of the “supply” of gas abroad was and remains “come and take”. That is, all gas is sold at the border, and all the main risks of transit are borne by the buyer of gas, whether it is in a neighboring country or in distant lands. It is clear that the buyer has to negotiate with the transit countries themselves. Someone was able to negotiate with the late Saparmurad Niyazov, but Ukraine did not; all the gas was bought by a Russian monster in the person of Gazprom, saying that there was no place for gas towards Ukraine in its pipe. But let's leave the Pharisees from Gazprom, back to the Turkmen.
It is clear that it is much easier for the country's leader to engage in the trade of the fact that you yourself have no relation to the birth or production of which. Gas was in the Turkmen land before it became Turkmen, all field exploration and the entire infrastructure for the extraction and transportation of gas were created during Soviet times. But from involvement in this, the authorities of Turkmenistan are simply bursting. So much so that it is simply impossible to have a reasonable conversation with them. So, the data of the audit of reserves of gas fields in Turkmenistan has not yet been made public, although the audit was completed more than 3 years ago. Niyazov deliberately concealed all documentation, which allowed him to deftly tack between the interests of real and potential buyers, saying that "... there is a lot of gas and enough gas for everyone." This speculative policy has tied many hands, Turkmen gas has entered and is on the Russian balance of gas supplies to Europe since Soviet times, and Gazprom was forced to agree to double the price of Turkmen gas in 2005, since it’s still more expensive to produce in Russia. Yes, and it is dangerous to leave the Turkmen market, and what if there really is a lot of gas? Approximately the same held for the Turkmen stories about gas reserves and investors and the failed Trans-Afghan gas pipeline. Now, European bureaucrats have also come across the same duck that have planned to merge the NABUCO gas pipeline with the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum and Trans-Caspian pipelines, the total construction cost of which will be about $ 20 billion. But the planned throughput of this gas pipeline is only 30 billion cubic meters. in year. Considering that in the western direction and along the same pipeline, gas and Azerbaijan will be pumped through, the share and, accordingly, revenues of Turkmenistan are becoming gaseous. And where to find an investor for the construction of a deepwater pipe, the payback period of which is postponed indefinitely?
Of course, among the persistent buyers of Turkmen gas there is also China, which lobbies with small steps the interests of the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline to the authorities of the transit countries - Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. It’s so successful that the Kyrgyz authorities are already “behind” with two hands, and the Uzbek specialists are coming to Ashgabat to probe future transit agreements, but so far, apart from the “multivariate” lines on the map from Turkmenistan towards China, the matter has not advanced.
Of course, there is still a crazy idea on laying the Trans-Afghan gas pipeline, but will a beggar and belligerent Afghanistan be able to pay for gas? And will Pakistan and India solve the problems of mutual hostility?
Now let's calculate the total planned gas supply. It turns out that not so much is stated. The Caspian gas pipeline is 30 billion cubic meters, the gas pipeline to China is also 30, and to Afghanistan-Pakistan-India is also 30, the Trans-Caspian is also announced to 30, but it will work out to Europe as much as Azerbaijan will allow, plus small volumes of supplies to Iran. Total about 120-130 billion cubic meters. m. per year. These figures are comparable with deliveries outside Turkmenistan of the late 80s of the last century - from 80 to 100 billion.
And then there is an important detail. By 2010-2011, Russia is proceeding to the formation of internal gas pricing based on a pan-European approach. And gas prices will be as close as possible to European prices minus transportation costs to specific consumers. Literally: you can sell most of Russia's gas at a price close to European or get involved in the adventure of building the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline and then on to Europe and sell gas in Europe at the same European prices. Of course, there is a danger of becoming dependent on Gazprom. But even here there are some pluses: all the existing and planned transport infrastructure of Gazprom for gas supplies to Europe has guaranteed investors, and all other projects still need to be found. And the dependence on Gazprom is worse than dependence on possible excesses in troubled areas of the Caucasus, and in Turkey itself?
Such cherished "multivariance" of gas supplies to world markets should be realistic. And now it is similar to the double-dealing of the Turkmen authorities, like a poorly-directed PR for external and internal consumption. Shaking hands with one vis-à-vis, Berdymukhamedov, says: "I do not trust you, Mr. Putin (Aliyev, Karzai, Nazarbayev, Karimov, etc.)." Therefore, I will sell gas in different directions. Well, the fact that most sales will not happen, more and more like a fairy tale about Nasreddin, the Shah and the donkey. And the Turkmen authorities don't care that the prestige of the state falls at the same time “below the plinth”. With existing supplies and rising gas prices, revenues from its sale will be enough to ensure stable growth of the economy and standard of living. But for this it is necessary to abandon the construction of cyclopean towers, digging a lake in the desert and orders to the president. Well, it is better to leave the explored gas to the next generations. It will be useful.