Turkmenistan plans to intensify efforts to export its energy resources to Europe, the country's president told a high-level German delegation Monday.
The announcement offers a glimmer of hope to the European Union, which has struggled to gain firm assurances of direct access to the natural gas-rich Central Asian nation's gas supplies.
President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov indicated that his government is exploring ways to capitalize on the country's vast hydrocarbon reserves.
"Turkmenistan is an economically developed state with huge hydrocarbon resources. We believe it is now important to step up our foreign economic relations," Berdymukhamedov told Germany's Technology and Economics Minister Michael Glos.
Items on the agenda included the EU-sponsored Nabucco pipeline, a project aimed at bringing more gas to Europe from the Caspian Sea region, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Concerned about growing dependence on Russian energy supplies, the European Union has sought to diversify supply routes by mulling over potential routes for Turkmen and other Central Asian gas exports that would bypass Russia.
But the Kremlin in December dealt a heavy blow to such hopes by signing a deal with Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan for those countries' Caspian Sea gas supplies to flow through Russia, draining the main potential source for the Nabucco pipeline.
German energy giant RWE, however, confirmed earlier this month that it will back the Nabucco pipeline.