In recent years, the EU has become increasingly concerned about its precarious energy situation. Disputes between Russia and Ukraine have resulted in reduction of the flow of gas from Russia to the West; North Sea gas fields are going into decline; and there are concerns that Russia’s Gazprom is not making sufficient investments to insure that there will be adequate gas for Europe.

Although increased shipments of LNG or a pipeline under the Mediterranean from North Africa are possible solutions, the best option is seen as a pipeline across Turkey that could one day bring natural gas from Azerbaijan, Iraq, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and even the Gulf states directly into the European natural gas network.

Last week at a meeting in Prague, a preliminary agreement to build such a pipeline was signed by the leaders of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Egypt. The Turks signed the agreement but say there will have to be progress on Turkey’s admission into the EU before a final agreement can be signed.

Representatives of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan attended the meeting, but refused to sign the agreement because of pressure from Moscow which sees the new pipeline as a challenge to its energy hegemony over Europe.

It is hoped that a new pipeline can be completed by 2014, but even then it will only be able to supply 5 percent of the EU’s demand for energy.