By Huseyn Hasanov
Turkmenistan is focused on the development of international legal mechanisms for the protection of the Caspian environment from possible adverse effects, Chairman of the Committee of Mejlis (Parliament) for Environmental Protection Redzhepgeldi Meredov said in an interview with Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper.
"Turkmenistan's efforts are particularly focused on developing the most effective international legal mechanisms and practical measures for the protection of the Caspian environment from possible adverse consequences, including economic activities and anthropogenic factors," Meredov said.
"Our country is rich with natural resources. This is our national heritage which is a strong prerequisite for the development of many important areas of the economy and the transformation of Turkmenistan from an agrarian to an industrially developed country," the committee chairman said.
The issues of economic security, environmental protection and the rational use of nature are included in the priorities of law making, according to Meredov.
The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland water reservoir not linked to any world ocean. It is unique for preserving various relict flora and fauna, including the world's largest shoal of sturgeon.
Experts maintain that there are a number of prerequisites for possible pollution of the Caspian Sea. Among those are the development of hydrocarbon reserves in the sea and the surrounding areas, the high density of population and industry in the adjacent areas, intensive agricultural development in the valleys which have rivers flowing into them, the lack of a river to sea explicit geochemical barrier and a closed basin.
Currently, Ashgabat is actively inviting foreign companies to develop hydrocarbons in the Turkmen section of the Caspian Sea where some 11 billion tons of oil and 5.5 trillion cubic meters of gas of forecasted resources lay excluding contacted blocks.
At the same time, Turkmenistan is interested in constructing a gas pipeline along the bottom of the Caspian Sea to the coast of Azerbaijan for re-transportation for its natural gas to Turkey and Europe. In this regard, the country's leadership expressed its readiness to conduct environmental expertise for the Trans-Caspian project by attracting international experts.
Turkmenistan and the European Union continue to negotiate over this aspect. For this purpose, the European Commissioner for Energy Gunther Oettinger plans to visit Ashgabat.
Ashgabat believes that for laying pipes under the Caspian Sea, the legal status of which has not yet been determined, the consent of both Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan and those territories covered by the project, is sufficient.
In turn, Azerbaijan expressed its readiness to offer its territory, transit opportunities and infrastructure for the implementation of the project as stated by representatives of State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR).
Turkmenistan ranks fourth in the world for natural gas reserves and currently exports this type of fuel to China, the CIS and Iran.
SOURCE: Trend, February 3rd 2014: http://en.trend.az/regions/casia/turkmenistan/2237380.html