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Study: Azeri gas a game-changer for region

Aug. 24, 2012 at 7:03 AM

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- A natural gas pipeline planned through Turkey for European markets could provide significant political capital for Ankara, an analysis says.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev signed an agreement regarding the Trans-Anatolian natural gas pipeline in June. The pipeline is designed to carry natural gas from the BP-controlled Shah Deniz field in the Azeri waters of the Caspian Sea through Turkish territory.

The Center for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, in a 44-page report, said the project could be "a strategic game changer" for accession talks with the European Union.

"Turkey has its own ambitions to become an energy hub not only regionally but also internationally, transforming itself into a strategic bridge between Eastern hydrocarbon resources and Western lucrative markets," the report adds.

The report said that Azerbaijan could benefit as well from the development of the Shah Deniz project by maintaining a strong relationship with its neighbors.

Natural gas from Azerbaijan plays a fundamental role in the Southern Corridor, a network of pipelines meant to break the Russian grip on the regional energy sector.

The report from Baku comes as the European Commission announced $24.4 million in new funding to help Azerbaijan reform its justice sector.

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