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Turkmenistan Opens New Gas Pipeline

The president of Turkmenistan says the completion of a new gas pipeline will boost cooperation with European partners.

Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov was speaking at a launch ceremony on December 23 in the small town of Belek near the shores of the Caspian Sea.

The East-West pipeline connects Turkmenistan’s gas fields in the east to its Caspian coast.

It is hoped the $2.5 billion project will one day be linked to the proposed Trans-Caspian pipeline (TCP).

Backed by the European Union, that project has so far remained on paper, bogged down in disputes about the Caspian Sea’s legal status and Turkmenistan’s refusal to sign production-sharing agreements with foreign energy companies.

But Berdymukhamedov said the availability of gas on Turkmenistan's western border could breathe new life into TCP.

"With the completion of East-West, cooperation with our European partners acquires new meaning," he said.

The 773-kilometer East-West link could also feed a proposed pipeline going along the coast through Kazakhstan to Russia.

Based on reporting by Reuters