BRUSSELS, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) --- The European Union (EU) will start talks with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to negotiate the construction of a trans-Caspian gas pipeline, the European Commission announced on Monday.
"The pipeline is a major project to bring new sources of gas to Europe," said Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger, adding that work would commence as soon as possible.
According to a statement, the EU will negotiate a legally-binding treaty with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, the first time the EU has proposed a treaty in support of an infrastructure project. The treaty will be concluded after all 27 member states agree that the European Commission should conduct negotiations on its behalf.
The Caspian gas pipeline agreement will pave the way for a submarine pipeline connecting Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan and bring gas from central Asia to the EU.
Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan have expressed their willingness to sell gas to Europe. The Southern Corridor will supply Europe with gas coming directly from the Caspian basin and the Middle East.
The EU is looking to diversify its gas sources and routes to avoid a repeat of what happened in winter of 2009, when Russia cut off supplies to Europe through Ukraine over a business dispute.
The Southern Gas Corridor is expected to become a supply route for roughly 10 to 20 percent of EU gas demand by 2020.
The EU imports over 60 percent of its gas and 80 percent of its oil. Therefore, energy security and partnerships are high on the bloc's agenda.
Discussions with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan will focus on setting out the legal commitments and practical working arrangements between the three parties.