The European Commission is turning a blind eye to corruption, lack of transparency and poor human rights in the repressive police state of Turkmenistan in a bid to secure future gas supplies, according to a new illustrated briefing paper from the campaign group Global Witness, launched on the eve of the 2009 oil and gas conference in Ashgabat, the Turkmen capital.
Global Witness’ report, ‘All that Gas?’ includes original artwork by satirical cartoonist, David Rees. His seven new cartoons feature EU bureaucrats discussing crude strategies to ‘get the gas’.
Just days after the report was launched, oil industry journals reported that the US has been pushing for access to Turkmen gas for American oil companies during the energy conference in Ashgabat. Chevron is apparently already in talks about taking over part of Turkmenistan’s giant South Iolatan gas field.
This follows previous pressure from the EU for a Turkmen commitment to pump gas through the proposed Nabucco pipeline. Oil companies including BP have already been trying to secure exploration licences in Turkmenistan for several years. BP has consistently been the main sponsor for the (almost) annual Turkmenistan Oil & Gas Conference. Yet again, BP is the “Platinum Sponsor” (Shell only made Silver), which seems to have netted the company two speakers on the programme Chief Economist Christof Ruehl and Exploration Vice President for New Business David Dalton. BP also hosted a cocktail party on Wednesday evening, while Total hosted a “VIP luncheon” Thursday afternoon. Developing fields under the Caspian and exporting the gas would be comparatively easy for BP, as its Shah Deniz field in Azerbaijan lies close to the marine border with Turkmenistan and its South Caucasus Gas Pipeline already pumps gas across the Caucasus and into the Turkish grid.