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Caspian Sea news roundup

A number of new developments have occurred recently in the oil and gas industries of the countries surrounding the Caspian Sea. Most of these revolve around two of the region's largest pipeline projects - TAPI and TANAP - as more details surrounding these schemes begin to surface.

The positive future of the region can also be seen, as a number of other countries are beginning to get involved in the oil and gas industry. From Serbia's attempt to join TANAP to South Korea's new deal to modernise Turkmen oil refineries, it is clear that this area of the globe is becoming more important in the international energy sector.


TAPI construction to begin in 2015

Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Turkmen president Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov met on Wednesday (April 8th), and one of the many things discussed was the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline. The two nations have apparently committed to starting construction on this project this year.

While it was previously known that the countries intended to fast-track construction of TAPI, a recent tweet from Syed Akbaruddin - official spokesperson for India's Ministry of External Affairs - confirmed that the project would begin in 2015. The tweet read: "Committed to deepening India - Turkmenistan ties. #TAPI construction to begin this year."

The two countries are also thought to have agreed to a number of joint efforts to increase the speed and efficiency of building the TAPI pipeline. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Turkmenistan for the first time in July, so it is thought further agreements regarding TAPI will be made then.


Turkmenistan to increase oil production?

Turkmennebit, Turkmenistan's state-run oil and gas company, has announced its plans to increase the nation's overall oil output in 2015. The firm, which operates around 30 fields in the country, intends to produce around 313,000 metric tons more oil this year than it did in 2014.

This increase of 2.9 per cent would bring the total amount of oil produced by Turkmennebit up to 11.11 million metric tons. As part of this planned increase, the company reported that it was looking into exploring the North Goturdepe oil field in the Caspian Sea in the near future.


TANAP to create up to 30,000 jobs

The $10 billion TANAP project looks likely to be beneficial to the region in a number of ways, and more information has been made available showing the long-term economic impact of the pipeline. One aspect that has not been looked at in great detail though is the number of jobs it will create.

According to Mr Aliyev, TANAP could create as much as 30,000 jobs in the regions it runs through. He estimates that up to 10,000 of these will be created in Georgia and Azerbaijan alone, once the project is completed in 2019.


Serbia and Bulgaria to benefit from TANAP?

Many other countries are making plans for the completion of TANAP in order to gain access to Azerbaijan's abundant gas resources. Among them are Serbia and Bulgaria, two nations looking to construct pipelines of their own to join up with TANAP.

Bulgaria has already announced its intentions to join TANAP, and its energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova was present at the groundbreaking ceremony for the pipeline in March. However, Serbia is now looking to construct a pipeline to Bulgaria so that it too can take advantage of the influx of Azeri gas.

Serbian minister for mining and energy Aleksandar Antic has said that a two-way connection with Bulgaria is the nation's top priority as a method of diversifying its gas supplies. "We must no longer be enamored of any energy project or rely on just one supply source. That will be the Serbian government policy,” said Mr Antic.


South Korea to update Turkmen oil refineries

Officials from South Korea's government have announced that a new committee will be set up with representatives from Turkmenistan in order to determine future areas of business cooperation. The two countries are looking to improve their economic ties, which looks likely to benefit the Turkmen oil industry.

As part of the bid to improve international cooperation, Korean firms Hyundai Engineering Co and LG International Co have signed a $940 million contract for work upgrading Turkmenistan's oil refineries. The companies will improve the facilities by enabling them to remove sulphur from the petrol and diesel they produce.

The pair of firms are also hoping to sign an impressive $3.89 billion contract for a new gas-to-liquid plant in Turkmenistan. This will be constructed near Ashgabat, should the deal be signed during Mr Berdymuhamedov’s visit to South Korea, which will begin on April 11th.

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