up to the proposed Nabucco line to deliver oil and gas from the Caspian region, thereby reducing Europe’s dependence on Russia.

The project has the support of the European Union and the US which are increasingly worried by Russia’s stranglehold on energy supplies to its neighbours and the West. Turkmenistan is an important piece in the proposed Nabucco pipeline which will be laid across Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

The Presidents of Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan met recently and agreed that it was in their interest to develop the project, enabling them to use new routes for their oil and gas exports.

Europe is eager to begin importing natural gas from Turkmenistan through the pipeline from Azerbaijan and Turkey. The proposed Trans Caspian gas pipeline is considered the vital missing link to connect Turkmenistan with Azerbaijan, which already has the South Caucasian Gas Pipeline infrastructure (SCP) to deliver gas to Turkey.

In a statement, Turkmenistan President

Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said: “Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey have huge potential for cooperation, and this moment in time dictates the necessity for us to fully activate it.”

While the agreement was hailed as a minor diplomatic breakthrough as Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are embroiled in a territorial dispute, the project still faces obstacles.

Turkmenistan remains wary as Russia is still the biggest buyer of its natural gas. Turkmenistan has begun exporting natural gas to China and further moves to develop new export markets could irritate Moscow.

The project could also face delays in getting financing amid the global credit crisis.

Earlier this year, Turkmenistan said it would consider exporting 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas to the EU annually.