Bodman: Caspian remains vital to global energy security

US Energy Sec. Samuel Bodman reaffirmed the need for Europe to diversify its sources of energy and stressed the role of the Caspian region in promoting energy security.

Eric Watkins
Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 14 -- US Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman, recalling the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia, reaffirmed the need for Europe to diversify its sources of energy and stressed the role of the Caspian region in promoting energy security.

"The Russia-Georgia conflict underscored how important it is for Europe to diversify sources of energy supply," Bodman told delegates at the Baku Energy Summit.

"The good news is that the pipelines operating on Georgian territory through what is emerging as the Southern Corridor were not affected by the brief war in Georgia," Bodman said.

Further Bodman said these southern corridor routes "will enable the transport of competitively priced Caspian energy resources to European and world markets, thereby furthering global energy security," adding, "It is our hope that this will bring willing sellers and potential new buyers together."

Bodman called the summit the latest in a series of beneficial outcomes that began with the signing of 1994's "Contract of the Century," which began movement of Azerbaijani oil resources to the global market.

Bodmand said that contract was the first step "toward the development, processing and deployment of this region's vast energy resources in successful ways to the benefit of producers and consumers alike."

Stating that the Caspian region "will be a priority for the next administration," Bodman said, adding that oil production from the Caspian states is already a significant source of supply to world markets outside of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

"We expect it to continue to play a vital role as oil production continues to increase over the next decade," he said.

Bodman said the US has been working with Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey for 15 years to ensure Caspian oil and gas can reach European and global markets through commercially viable and secure export routes.

"We are now building on the success of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan [oil pipeline] and South Caucasus gas pipelines to develop a new generation of export routes known as the Southern Corridor," he said.

"The US is committed to working with Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Turkey, and our European partners to realize the Turkey-Greece-Italy and Nabucco pipelines that will form the foundation of the Southern Corridor," he said.

However, he noted, "It remains crucial that gas producers and consumers put in place the framework agreements required to ensure these projects will be commercially viable."

"If we continue to promote a strong investment climate—including transparency and the rule of law—we can look forward to additional energy projects that will bring great benefits to the citizens and economies of this region and, as a result, the entire world," Bodman said.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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