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EU To Start Caspian Pipeline Negotiations With Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan

A gas meter in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku
The European Union has decided to conduct negotiations with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on construction of a trans-Caspian natural-gas pipeline.

All 27 EU members agreed to task the European Commission with leading negotiations with the two Caspian countries.

Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said that "Europe is now speaking with one voice" and reminded that "the trans-Caspian pipeline is a major project in the Southern Corridor to bring new sources of gas to Europe."

The EU is also supporting construction of the Nabucco gas pipeline to bring Caspian gas from the Turkish-Georgian border to the heart of Europe.

But without a trans-Caspian pipeline to bring gas from Turkmenistan, which has the world's fourth-largest reserves of gas, it remains unclear how Nabucco could secure the 31 billion cubic meters of gas annually.

Nabucco officials have previously said connecting Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan via a pipeline on the Caspian Sea bed would not be difficult.

compiled from local and international agency reports