Caspian Brief: June 30, 2017
Turkmen president invites Uzbekistan to TAPI pipeline project
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov invited the business community of Uzbekistan to participate in the Turkmenistan — Afghanistan — Pakistan — India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, said the Turkmen Dovlet Habarlary state news service.
The suggestion was made at a meeting of the Turkmen president with Uzbek Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov in Ashgabat. Uzbekistan was also offered to proceed with the development of oil and gas fields on the Caspian shelf.
“The [Turkmen] head of state noted with satisfaction the ever friendly and good-neighborly nature of the Turkmen-Uzbek relations,” reads the message. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, which possess considerable reserves of hydrocarbon resources, stand for diversification of energy flows.
The total length of the TAPI pipeline will be 1,814 kilometers. A 214-kilometer section of the pipeline will run through Turkmenistan, a 774-kilometer section will run through Afghanistan and an 826-kilometer section will run through Pakistan.
Construction of the Turkmen section of TAPI started in 2015 and is scheduled to finish in late 2018.
Uzbekistan, Lukoil eye new projects in oil and gas sector
Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and CEO of PJSC LUKOIL Vagit Alekperov, who arrived in Tashkent for a working visit, discussed the implementation of current projects and preparation for prospective projects in the oil and gas sector, the Uzbek national news agency (UzA) reported.
Particular attention was paid to new projects aimed at deep processing of produced natural gas, as well as cooperation in the field of training highly qualified personnel for the industry.
Uzbekistan’s president noted the dynamically developing cooperation with LUKOIL in the oil and gas sphere.
Currently, the geological study of the Ustyurt block and the development of oil and gas condensate fields of the South-West Gissar are being carried out jointly.
Work is underway to develop the fields of the Kandym group with the construction of a modern gas processing complex, which will allow processing more than 8 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year in the near future.
To date, more than 90 percent of delivery of the equipment has been completed, about 8,000 people are employed in the construction of the GPP and most of them are local specialists.
The first stage of the plant is planned to be commissioned in late 2017. Total volume of investments in this project is estimated to be $3.3 billion in the first phase.
Vagit Alekperov, for his part, expressed readiness for further development of full-scale bilateral cooperation in the oil and gas sector.
Uzbekistan is rich in hydrocarbon resources, and about 60 percent of its territory possesses potential oil and gas reserves. The projected reserves of hydrocarbons stand at about 10 billion tons of standard fuel, while prospective ones amount to about 2 billion tons.
There are five oil and gas regions – Ustyurt, Bukhara-Khiva, Surkhandarya, Hissar, and Fergana – and three promising ones -Khorezm, Middle Syr Darya and Zarafshan- in Uzbekistan.
Russia’s LUKOIL and Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) are among the most heavily invested companies in Uzbekistan’s oil and natural gas industries.
Turkmenistan expands its passenger air fleet with a new Boeing
The fleet of Turkmenistan’s national airlines company Turkmenhowayollary has been replenished with a new passenger airliner Boeing-737-800, which landed at Ashgabat International Airport on June 28, the State News Agency of Turkmenistan reported.
The new plane has become the third aircraft of this series, for the purchase of which according to the Decree of the President of Turkmenistan in April 2014 a contract was signed with the American aircraft giant.
The hours-long flight from the city of Seattle (USA) was carried out by a crew of Turkmenhowayollary. According to tradition, Turkmen elders performed a ceremony of blessing at the airport on the occasion of the arrival of the new plane.
The range of non-stop flight of Boeing-737-800, which reaches 5660 kilometers, allows using such planes for passenger flights from Ashgabat to Almaty, Ankara, Istanbul, Delhi, Dubai, Kazan, Minsk, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other cities of the Eurasian continent. A comfortable and highly efficient airliner is designed for 160 passengers.
Currently, the Turkmen national air fleet has such aircrafts of this world famous brand as Boeing-757, Boeing-717, and the wide-body long-haul liner Boeing-767-300 ER.
In accordance with the National Civil Aviation Program of Turkmenistan for 2012-2030, the number of such airliners will grow, which will allow opening of new planned air services from Ashgabat to Milan (Italy), Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Tehran (Islamic Republic of Iran), Tbilisi (Georgia), and Tashkent (Uzbekistan).
Drilling operations ahead of schedule on Azerbaijan’s biggest gas field
The new wells are being drilled ahead of time and budget schedules within Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz Stage 2 project, a source in the Azerbaijani oil and gas market told Trend June 29.
According to the source, in particular, two well-equipped SDG03 and SDG04 wells were drilled from the Maersk Explorer semi-submersible drilling rig in 2016.
“Much work was carried out from the Maersk Explorer drilling rig on Shah Deniz field in 2016,” the source said. “The productivity consistently improved. Several drilled wells are considered to be one of the most difficult ones on the field. For example, drilling a well on the south-eastern section eight years ago took more than 300 days, while SDG03 well, for comparison, was drilled within record 170 days.”
According to the source, in 2016 Maersk Explorer completed to drill three wells eight months ahead of schedule and by 30 percent below appraisal.
“Currently, the south-western section of the Shah Deniz field is being drilled” the source said. “The operations are being carried out there 48 days ahead of schedule. It has been possible to greatly reduce the average cost of drilling a well due to constant optimization.”
Tajik, Uzbek police chiefs hold first meeting in 20 years
The Tajik interior minister, Lt-Gen of Police Ramazon Rahimzoda, met his Uzbek counterpart, Maj-Gen Abdusalom Azizov, on 28 June.
During the meeting, the sides exchanged views on strengthening bilateral cooperation in the fight against transnational organised crime, terrorism, extremism and illegal drug trafficking, the Tajik Interior Ministry’s press service reported.
Over the past nearly two decades, the law-enforcers of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have not carried out any joint operation to eliminate criminal groups with transnational ties. An Uzbek interior minister last visited Tajikistan 19 years ago. It was the then minister Zokir Almatov’s visit to Dushanbe.
A regular meeting of the Council of Interior Ministers of the CIS countries was held in Dushanbe the other day [27-29 June]. The interior ministers of CIS countries discussed the implementation of interstate programmes on fighting crime and draft interstate programmes on fighting crime for 2019-2023, as well as the implementation of decisions previously adopted by the Council of Interior Ministers of the CIS countries on ensuring public order and citizens’ safety during mass events.
The meeting also looked at a draft protocol on making amendments to the agreement on cooperation between the CIS member states in combating illegal drug trafficking, psychotropic substances and their precursors dated 30 November 2000; and on the implementation of the resolution of the Council of the Interior Ministry dated 6 September 2016 “On cooperation between the interior bodies (police) of the CIS member states in preventing the involvement of citizens of the CIS countries in terrorist and extremist organisations”, as well as drawing up a list of organisations of a terrorist or extremist nature, whose activities are banned on the territory of the CIS member states.
Atambayev offers Russia to build training base in southern Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan, especially its southern part in the Fergana Valley shared with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, faces a potential threat of extremism and terrorism that may spill over into the country from neighboring Afghanistan. In this situation, it is a vital issue for Bishkek to strengthen its armed forces in the south of the country, including with Russia’s help and even military presence.
Kyrgyzstan is against the expansion of the existing Russian airbase in the country, but is encouraging the Kremlin to build a separate military training base in the south of the country.
That’s according to Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev, who said he discussed the matter with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin last week in Moscow.
“I told Vladimir Vladimirovich: ‘If you really want to think about security, then we are interested in starting construction of some sort of training facility in the south of the country.’ I think that would be a good option,” Atambayev told reporters in Bishkek on June 24.
Atambayev added that while he was in favor of modernizing the Kant air base, which Russia operates outside Bishkek, he was against sending additional forces there. “We have strongly objected when Russian authorities have suggested expanding the military base at Kant,” he said.
“What point is there to building it [Kant] up? Defend Bishkek from what? If we really think about the future, we need to think about the fact that we’re seeing more problems from Afghanistan,” he said. “If we’re going to defend, we need to look at the border of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. That’s my position.”