Total pursues Turkmenistan gas deals – CEO

* Total CEO meets Turkmen president

* Expects “concrete proposals” in a few months

* Trans-Caspian link would help Nabucco project

By Marat Gurt

ASHGABAT, Nov 24 (BestGrowthStock) – French energy major Total
(TOTF.PA: ) plans to take part in projects to produce and deliver
Turkmen gas to Europe via a pipeline under the Caspian Sea,
state media quoted the company’s CEO as saying on Wednesday.
Total expects to make concrete proposals on trans-Caspian
gas projects within a few months, Chief Executive Christophe de
Margerie said in comments broadcast on state television a day
after he met President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.

“We discussed the possibilities for taking Turkmen gas
across the Caspian Sea … and spoke about the priority of
ecology,” de Margerie said. His remarks were translated into
Turkmen.

“Our task is to work these issues out and come up with
concrete proposals in a few months’ time. I believe I will meet
again with the respected president.”

Turkmenistan holds the world’s fourth-largest natural gas
reserves, BP data shows. The Central Asian country plans to
triple annual output to 230 billion cubic metres (bcm) within
the next two decades, of which 180 bcm would be exported.

The former Soviet republic is diversifying gas sales from
its traditional market, Russia, and seeking customers in China,
Iran, Pakistan, India and Europe.

A senior government official said last week that
Turkmenistan would have 40 bcm of gas per year available to sell
to Europe and that its proposal to ease construction of an
undersea pipeline had won support from its Caspian neighbours.

TRANS-CASPIAN LINK

President Berdymukhamedov proposed at a conference last week
that any two of the five countries on the Caspian should be able
to agree on laying a pipeline across their territorial waters.
[ID:nLDE6AI141]

A trans-Caspian pipeline between Turkmenistan and
Azerbaijan, linking onward to Europe, would be a crucial boost
to the European Union-backed Nabucco project to supply gas to
European markets.

Nabucco is expected to cost about 7.9 billion euros ($11.04
billion) and is seen coming on line with about 15 bcm of gas by
the end of 2014.

“Turkmenistan is always open for effective cooperation on
mutually beneficial basis with existing and potential partners,”
state newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan quoted Berdymukhamedov as
saying.

In August, state television named Chevron Corp (CVX.N: ),
ConocoPhillips (COP.N: ), Houston-based TXOil Ltd and Abu
Dhabi-based Mubadala Oil and Gas as the preferred bidders for
two offshore oil blocks in Turkmenistan’s part of the Caspian.

Onshore, firms from China, South Korea and the United Arab
Emirates won $9.7 billion worth of contracts in December to
drill and build plants at the South Iolotan gas deposit, which
the government estimates holds 21 trillion cubic metres.
(Writing by Robin Paxton)

Total pursues Turkmenistan gas deals – CEO