Will the Kremlin trade Nord Stream 2 for the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline?


Three years ago, after 22 years of difficult negotiations, the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea was finally signed. The resources of its hydrocarbon-rich shelf have been divided among five competing Caspian states, one of which is Russia. It would seem that all legal and territorial problems have been successfully resolved, and we can confidently move forward in our steady development. However, there are more and more fears that in August 2018, the security in the Caspian Sea was laid, as it is now fashionable to say, an "atomic bomb".


During the Soviet period, the legal status of this unique inland water body, which does not have a direct outlet to the World Ocean, was regulated by bilateral agreements between Moscow and Tehran. Problems arose after the collapse of the USSR, when instead of two players there were suddenly five of them: Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. The situation became more complicated after companies from the United States, Great Britain, France and the Netherlands began to develop Kazakhstani oil fields, and the Pentagon clearly set its eyes on getting a naval base on the Caspian coast, from where it could increase pressure on Iran. The unresolved territorial issue was further aggravated by the EU's desire to build a Trans-Caspian gas pipeline through which it could gain access to rich deposits of "blue fuel" in Turkmenistan. Well, in the past few years, the pan-Turkic ambitions of Turkey, which intends to create a kind of supranational association, a "logistic superpower", have begun to pose a big problem for Russia, uniting the former Soviet Central Asian republics under its auspices. After the military defeat of Yerevan in Nagorno-Karabakh, Ankara achieved the opening of a land transport corridor through the Armenian territory to the union Azerbaijan, which has a direct access to the Caspian Sea.

Such a complex geopolitical tangle has now curled up around the water area of ​​this inland sea, rich in natural resources and of major strategic importance for the transit of hydrocarbons and cargo flows from Asia to Europe. The Kremlin tried to chop it down in 2018, but the intermediate results were not entirely unambiguous. Something worked out, but something only got worse. Let's take a look at all the main pros and cons of adopting the Convention.

On the one handRussia has secured the closure of the Caspian Sea to foreign warships, which can be considered an important achievement. Flotillas will be able to sail in its waters only under the flags of the five Caspian countries. Therefore, the US Navy has nothing to do there. True, it is not entirely clear what will happen if suddenly Azerbaijan decides in the future to become a NATO member after Turkey or a partner of the North Atlantic Alliance. Experts also note very vague formulations regarding the ban on the provision of their territory by the Caspian countries to foreign military bases. It is indicated that they should not be aimed at military aggression or other actions against the rest of the member states of the Convention. According to formal logic, there is no ban on the creation of military bases in the Caspian against non-Caspian countries. Do you remember how the United States, back in the days of our "friendship" with them, promoted the idea of ​​deploying its missile defense system in Europe, arguing that it was necessary to contain Iran, but in the end it turned out that this was done against Russia?

On the other hand, the signing of the Convention in 2018 gave a new impetus to the implementation of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline project. It is assumed that a 300-kilometer-long pipeline connecting the city of Turkmenbashi with Baku, through which Turkmenistan could export to Europe up to 32 billion cubic meters of gas a year, should pass along the seabed. All the necessary gas transportation infrastructure in Azerbaijan and Turkey has already been built within the framework of the Southern Corridor. The main stumbling block was the positions of Russia and Iran. For obvious reasons, Moscow was against Turkmenistan's entry into the southern European market; Gazprom itself buys Central Asian gas. Iran also has its own ambitions to become a supplier of "blue fuel" to the EU. It is impossible to realize the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline without their consent. Or rather, it was impossible. Article 14 of the said Convention contains two parts, which the Caspian countries interpret differently.

Here is the text of part 2 of article 14:

The parties may lay underwater trunk pipelines along the bottom of the Caspian Sea, provided that their projects comply with environmental requirements and standards enshrined in international treaties to which they are parties, including the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea and the corresponding protocols thereto.

And part 3 of article 14:

Determination of the route for laying underwater cables and pipelines is carried out by agreement with the Party, through the sector of the bottom of which the underwater cable or pipeline is to be laid.

It follows from the test of this international agreement that now the main gas pipelines can be laid along the bottom of the Caspian Sea. At the same time, in Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan they especially emphasize part 3, which directly states that it is enough to agree with only one side, and not all five. In other words, a bilateral agreement will be enough for Baku and Ashgabat to start construction. However, Russian lawyers point to a clause from Part 2, which says about the need for projects to comply with environmental standards enshrined in international treaties, in particular, the 2003 Tehran Framework Convention and its protocols. Within the framework of the Protocol on Environmental Impact Assessment, each of the five Caspian countries has the right to participate in a mandatory environmental impact assessment.

It is believed that in this way the Kremlin again outplayed everyone. But is it worth it to be so categorical? International law and law is not something immutable at all, normative acts can be transformed due to changes in the legal relations that they regulate. (Do you remember how the Constitution was taken and rewritten in Russia last year?) For example, if a change in the ecological situation in the Caspian is recorded, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan may raise the question of making additions to the "Tehran" Convention and its protocols, or even withdrawing from it as it is no longer relevant. Note that the topic of the ecology of the Caspian Sea is now one of the most hype among a wide range of stakeholders. Alternatively, the European partners can offer the Kremlin to "wave" by allowing the launch of Nord Stream 2 in exchange for the fact that Russia will not create environmental obstacles to the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline.

Much has become possible since the signing of that Convention in 2018. At the same time, the idea of ​​teasing Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan with the possibility of building a gas pipeline does not seem reasonable.
16 comments
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  1. Monster_Fat Offline Monster_Fat
    Monster_Fat (What's the difference) 3 May 2021 14: 36
    0
    I still did not understand where in this case, the Kremlin "again outplayed everyone", given that all these provisions of the Convention are controversial and are interpreted by everyone in their own favor, and besides, the only thing that Russia can "push" against is for "ecological expertise" (such as the time to play with the Belgians' permission for SP-2).
    1. Petr Vladimirovich (Peter) 3 May 2021 15: 11
      +2
      how the Belgians played the permit for the SP-2

      This is something new... fellow
      1. Monster_Fat Offline Monster_Fat
        Monster_Fat (What's the difference) 3 May 2021 16: 14
        +1
        Sorry Denmark. Sputtered hi
        1. Petr Vladimirovich (Peter) 3 May 2021 16: 31
          0
          Not the point. "They're both worse" ... laughing
  2. The comment was deleted.
    1. Petr Vladimirovich (Peter) 3 May 2021 19: 21
      0
      Alexei! Buddy! Well, it will be for you already. Sergey Evgenievich writes and brings a small penny into the house, we discuss and have fun ...
      "Back and forth, you and I are pleased" (c)
      fellow
  3. 123 Offline 123
    123 (123) 3 May 2021 17: 41
    +9
    What kind of fantasies?
    Nobody will exchange anything. The Kremlin will finish building the SP-2, calmly, demonstratively. What can they offer the Kremlin for exchange? Permission to launch a gas pipeline? Is this the one where European companies have invested more than Gazprom? Germany is holding on to it so stubbornly that it would simply not be launched?
    You persistently come up with some kind of combination in which someone will necessarily bend Gazprom, forcing the Kremlin, and so on. A solid section of fiction.

    Why is the Transkasky gas pipeline needed? Europe is about to switch to green energy. So let him pass.
    And let the Turkmenbashi bring in and take out anything. Who said that his proposals would be accepted? Get out of the convention? Flag in hand. We return to the state before it was signed laughing This song is good, start over.
    1. Petr Vladimirovich (Peter) 3 May 2021 19: 17
      0
      Guys! And who was in Turkmenistan at the latest? Well, not from the Internet, but with your own eyes?
  4. Sergey Latyshev Offline Sergey Latyshev
    Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 3 May 2021 20: 59
    -2
    1) the Kremlin outplayed everyone
    2) All 5 countries received the theoretical opportunity to drive directly to Europe. Which is logical.
    Bypassing the intermediary Russia.
    3) The Kremlin will exchange Nord Stream 2. Why?

    Peremoga?
  5. Bakht Offline Bakht
    Bakht (Bakhtiyar) 3 May 2021 21: 03
    +3
    The gas pipeline can of course be built. Moreover, the relationship between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan has moved from a dead center (Dostlug field).
    The problem is different. Turkmenistan exports practically all of its gas to China. The TAPI project (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) has not yet been buried. Although it looks utopian for political reasons.
    Gas fields of Turkmenistan are located in the east of the country, closer to China, and the gas pipeline will be pulled west to Europe. It’s strange.
    In general, it is strange to read some of the articles on the site. They write that Gazprom is a kirdyk, because Europe refuses gas completely. They write that Gazprom is a kirdyk, because Europe is going to buy not Russian, but Turkmen gas. What these articles have in common is that Gazprom is a kirdyk anyway.
    Gas from Turkmenistan will always be more expensive due to logistics. Let's compare supplies via SP-2 without intermediaries or gas from Turkmenistan through transit countries (Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey) and this is southern Europe, not Germany (the locomotive of Europe). And all transit countries will want their share of the profit. I'm not even talking about distance.
    Is it because of the extra 5 or 10 billion to build an underwater gas pipeline? They said that SP-2 with 55 billion cubic meters per year would never pay off. Will the trans-Caspian pay off immediately? And who will bring Fortuna to the Caspian?
    There are more questions than answers. The gas pipeline can be built if technically pulled by Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. And if there is a pipe-laying vessel (and all roads to the Caspian lead through Russia). But hardly....
    1. Petr Vladimirovich (Peter) 3 May 2021 22: 11
      -1
      Do you want guys for some joke? Once I flew to Astrakhan, the plane at Sheremetyevo was delayed, an elderly person walks with a badge Volunteer. Boring, why not chat in English? His expression is melancholy, hot, there are only pounds, and in the buffet only rubles. Okay, what a problem, I took him some water. On retirement, I am flying to Astrakhan, I will teach people to build a business. We chatted.
      And on the plane, too, is normal, the guy in the next seat, buddy, can't you move the case? He doesn't understand, he switched to English, he replied, he is from South Africa - a crane operator, I work on the Tengiz-Novorossiysk oil pipeline, a salary of $ 4000 a month, plus a flight to any country on vacation. The volunteer was taken by car right at the ramp, without customs and passport control.
      If you are in Astrakhan, I recommend a sturgeon steak in a restaurant next to the Kremlin, this is something !!!
  6. shadow Offline shadow
    shadow 4 May 2021 02: 02
    0
    Another someone's invention.
  7. Marzhecki Offline Marzhecki
    Marzhecki (Sergei) 4 May 2021 07: 55
    0
    Quote: Monster_Fat
    I still did not understand where in this case, the Kremlin "again outplayed everyone", given that all these provisions of the Convention are controversial and are interpreted by everyone in their own favor, and besides, the only thing that Russia can "push" against is for "ecological expertise" (such as the time to play with the Belgians' permission for SP-2).

    That was sarcasm...
  8. Marzhecki Offline Marzhecki
    Marzhecki (Sergei) 4 May 2021 07: 59
    0
    Quote: 123
    Why is the Transkasky gas pipeline needed? Europe is about to switch to green energy. So let him pass.

    The process will take decades. For the transitional period, they take all the gas that is possible to take.
  9. Marzhecki Offline Marzhecki
    Marzhecki (Sergei) 4 May 2021 08: 12
    0
    Quote: Bakht
    There are more questions than answers. The gas pipeline can be built if technically pulled by Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. And if there is a pipe-laying vessel (and all roads to the Caspian lead through Russia). But hardly...

    https://neftegaz.ru/news/transport-and-storage/480357-konsortsium-evropeyskikh-i-kitayskikh-kompaniy-gotov-postroit-transkaspiyskiy-gazoprovod/
    Those who wish are there without any Fortune, which is Russian.
    P.S. Gazprom's long-term performance is not looking very good indeed. I would not be surprised if his story ends with the division into several companies and the privatization of those that bring some kind of profit, and the illiquid liquid will be hanged on the budget ...
    1. Bakht Offline Bakht
      Bakht (Bakhtiyar) 4 May 2021 14: 21
      0
      Your link does not contain a resource base for the gas pipeline. All gas is contracted and sold. Plus, Turkmenistan is building its own polypropylene plants.
      Build a gas pipeline without a resource base? Was it not for this that GazProm was scolded?
      There are pipe-laying vessels in the Caspian, of course. But they did not do such large-scale projects. Plus Western tricks with certification and so on.
      At the moment, Gazprom is doing just fine. Thanks to the efforts of European parliamentarians and "smart people" from Ukraine, Poland and Bulgaria, GazProm is gradually switching to pricing at the Dutch hub. And if according to the previous formula (pegged to oil) a thousand cubic meters for Germany costs 170-200 bucks, then for others the price at the hub has exceeded 300 bucks for the same thousand cubic meters. And if Gazprom planned an average price of $ 2021 for 170, now it has revised it upward to $ 210. Last year Gazprom incurred losses of 700 billion rubles, but this year it is planned to make a profit of 500 billion rubles. And its shares have risen in price against the background of small gas reserves in Europe.
      Of course, they can split the company. I don't go to the Kremlin. For some reason, they are not invited. But I don’t think it will be done in the short term.
  10. Marzhecki Offline Marzhecki
    Marzhecki (Sergei) 5 May 2021 09: 07
    0
    Quote: Bakht
    Your link does not contain a resource base for the gas pipeline. All gas is contracted and sold. Plus, Turkmenistan is building its own polypropylene plants.
    Build a gas pipeline without a resource base? Was it not for this that GazProm was scolded?

    This is not my link. As for the resource base, I think that in Europe not bad people are sitting and will not start such projects without a base. By the way, what kind of gas is coming through the Turkish Stream? Where did it come from? Is it from Central Asia? Is the train of thought clear?