Russian president Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Turkmenistan on October 22-23 is likely to focus on the future of natural gas purchases from that country.
Moscow is traditionally the biggest purchaser of Turkmen gas, but reduced imports in 2009, and is likely to buy only ten billion cubic metres this year, a third of the volume envisaged in its contract.
NBCentralAsia energy experts say Medvedev is unlikely to propose increasing the amount Moscow imports. Turkmenistan would like to see this happening but it does not currently make economic sense for the Russians to do so.
At the same time, Russia is keen to head off plans to transport Turkmen gas to Europe by other routes, for example using the proposed Nabucco pipeline which would go through Turkey. To reach the pipeline, the natural gas would first have to cross the Caspian Sea, but Turkmen officials have recently been discussing the potential for getting liquefied natural gas supplies to Azerbaijan, which could resolve this problem.
According to an energy-sector commentator in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat, "Medvedev wants to establish how sustainable ideas are at this point for transporting unprocessed fuel without going through Russia.”
Medvedev is not expected to sign any agreements during his visit.