(EnergyAsia, November 28 2011, Monday) — Oil and gas pipelines and transportation infrastructure are among projects being considered by Central Asian governments and senior representatives of development agencies who met in Baku in Azerbaijan last week to work out a new 10-year strategy for the region.

An oil transportation system and a natural gas pipeline network serving the nations of Central Asia and the Caspian are likely to be included in the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) programme to promote economic development.

Azerbaijan is pushing for the construction of a Caspian oil transportation system as an extension to deliver at least 25 million tons of Kazakh oil a year from Kazakhstan to Azerbaijan through the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline (BTC) pipeline.

The 1,768-km BTC pipeline, which started up in May 2005, delivers crude oil from the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli field in the Caspian Sea through Baku, Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, and the Turkish port of Ceyhan in the south-eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

The proposed underwater Trans-Caspian Gas (TGC) pipeline links Türkmenbaşy in Turkmenistan, and Baku, but its route remains debated as some proposals have called for the construction of side connections linking it to the Tengiz field in Kazakhstan. The project is aimed at delivering natural gas from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to central Europe while bypassing Russia and Iran.

Established in 2001, CAREC brings together Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to promote regional projects in energy, transport and trade facilitation.

CAREX has the support of six multilateral institutions including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Monetary Fund, Islamic Development Bank, UN Development Programme and World Bank.

ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said: “ADB has allocated US$4.7 billion over the next three years to support CAREC 2020’s goals of trade expansion and improved competitiveness. We stand ready to assist in accelerating the development of physical infrastructure connectivity, the development of economic corridors, and the improvement of the knowledge base needed to support CAREC’s priorities.”

President Kuroda made the announcement at the Development Partners’ Forum on the third day of the 10th CAREC Ministerial Conference. The forum was chaired by ADB Vice President Xiaoyu Zhao.

Senior representatives of bilateral agencies from France, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US were at the forum to support CAREC 2020.

To date, member governments and the development agencies have approved over 100 projects worth a total of US$17 billion to support CAREC’s growth. These projects include six land transport corridors including 3,600 km of roads and 2,000 km of railway to link the regional countries with Europe, Asia and the Middle East.