U.S. touts alternate supply routes

Aug. 3, 2007 at 11:57 AM

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- Azerbaijan remains the most favorable route for the export of Turkmen gas, a U.S. State Department official said.

The United States has long backed a gas-export route to Europe that bypasses Russia, which supplies Europe with the bulk of its energy needs. Washington says alternate routes will increase competition.

But alternate supply routes to Europe, including the much-touted Nabucco pipeline that would take gas from Turkey to Austria, are still years away, leaving Russia the only real option, at least for now.

A proposed Caspian gas pipeline that would carry Turkmen gas to Russia via Kazakhstan would adversely affect any other regional pipeline plan, as would the newly proposed South Stream Pipeline that would carry gas from the Black Sea to Bulgaria.

But the U.S. official, Matthew Bryza, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, told a news conference in Baku, Azerbaijan, Thursday that the development of gas deposits in the Caspian and their delivery to Europe would enhance energy security.

"All these projects and agreements help form a South Caucasus energy corridor that guarantees gas for European consumers and ensures the steady development of supplier countries from the Caspian region," he said.

The comments were reported by the Turan news agency.

"All Caspian littoral states should get benefits from the production and transportation of gas to Europe, including Russia," he said. "We do not want anyone to battle with Russia over this issue."

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