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Is Turkmenistan’s gas line a pipe dream?

Dimitris Giannakopoulos

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Welcome to the Caspian Daily, where you will find the 10 most important things you need to know on Caspian Sea Region. We appreciate ideas, reports, news and interesting articles. Send along to Caspian[at]moderndiplomacy.eu or on Twitter: @DGiannakopoulos

1For many, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (Tapi) gas pipeline is nothing but a pipe dream.Its starting point is in Turkmenistan, one of the most isolated and closed-for-business states in the world, before it goes through war-torn Afghanistan and then reaches two countries that are hard to describe as partners – Pakistan and India.However, Turkmenistan insists that the pipeline’s construction will start by the end of 2015. The visit in May of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Ashgabat seemed to confirm this – both sides pledged to put fast track the project. Likewise the recent visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Turkmenistan is also being seen as a boost to the project” writes Abdujalil Abdurasulov for BBC.

2Azerbaijan to produce nuclear fuel? Azerbaijan aims to develop nuclear research in the country and produce nuclear fuel. The Emergency Situations Ministry together with the Ministry of Communications and High Technologies and the International Atomic Energy Agency are working on a feasibility study for a nuclear research reactor, according to a statement by Communications Minister Ali Abbasov at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers.“We also teamed up with the Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry to launch a geological investigation of nuclear deposits in Azerbaijan,” he said.“If we find enough sources we will draw up a package of proposals on the production of nuclear fuel in the country, and submit it to the government,” the minister added.

3Russia, China to Stage Naval Exercises in Sea of Japan in Late August. The exercises will include approximately 20 ships and support vessels, as well as aircraft from both sides. “For the first time joint training on the marine Klerk Range will include marine landings using landing vessels and flight aviation from both sides,” Capt. 1st Rank Roman Martov said.

4How Iran’s nuclear deal affects India. The landmark nuclear deal between Iran and major world powers has enabled Tehran to restore normal trade with many countries. But before the deal was reached, and despite crippling sanctions, India was among a handful of countries doing billions of dollars of trade with Iran. The lifting of sanctions will have significant implications for Delhi, which hopes to reinvigorate its economic and strategic engagement with Tehran. However, there are concerns among Indian businessmen that Iran may now play hard to get, or even turn to more competitive international players. The BBC’s Anbarasan Ethirajan looks at the impact on India and its economic interests.

5Rosatom promotes its technologies at the PowerGen Africa conference in Cape Town. Rosatom executives gave an overview of the State corporation, which had 250 000 employees in over 360 companies and boasted an order portfolio of $101.4-billion. It is the second largest nuclear energy corporation in the world according to installed nuclear capacity and makes up 17% of the world nuclear fuel market. Besides its dominance in nuclear power stations, it had extensive experience in thermal power technologies, which it was keen to share with South Africa. Rosatom had a separate thermal power utility.

6Kazakhstan to build new refinery jointly with Iran. Kazakhstan will construct a new – fourth refinery in the Mangistau region, Rakimbek Amirjanov, the deputy akim of the Mangistau region said at a briefing on July 15. He also noted that the construction of the refinery will be conducted jointly with Iran, local Kazakh media reported.”Akimat is considering the construction of Kazakhstan’s fourth refinery jointly with the Iranian side. We have conducted an analysis and received a confirmation from the Iranian side,” he stressed. “Currently, we have offered to jointly construct a refinery. It will be located in the Mangistau region. Oil products will be sent from Mangistau to the northern ports of Iran.”Amirjanov went on to add that Iran and Kazakhstan have already held a number of official negotiations. Also, there are large companies in Kazakhstan that are interested in investing in this project.

7Ukraine wants to buy Kazakh and Turkmen gas. Head of the European integration department at the Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Ministry Mykhailo Bno-Airiyan said that Ukraine was interested in buying gas from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. It was reported by in October 2014 Ukraine’s temporary charge d’affaires in Kazakhstan Yuri Lazebnik expressed Ukraine’s interest in getting gas from Kazakhstan bypassing Russia. But that time Kazakhstan did not confirm that any official request from Ukraine regarding gas was made.

8Electronic property registration service for Azerbaijan. A new online system will simplify the procedure of real estate registration for Azerbaijani citizens. After having signed and notarized a real estate purchase contract, citizens and legal entities will no longer need to revisit the registrar for documentation. The new paperless system will make it possible to register real estate online. The National System of Real Estate Registration may provide an online payment system for state fees to further simply the registration procedure.

9A new era for Iran. “Iran, host to many unique cultural treasures largely unseen by western eyes, is expecting a significant rise in the number of tourists visiting the country in the wake of this week’s historic nuclear deal. President Hassan Rouhani’s government is taking fresh measures to ease or abolish visa requirements for most foreign visitors and build as many as 200 new hotels, as existing accommodation is insufficient to cater for the spike in tourism that has occurred since his election in 2013. Iran’s vice-president for tourism, Masoud Soltanifar, said that “bright days” lie ahead for the country’s tourism industry following the nuclear agreement struck in Vienna. “No other industry in Iran will see a bigger boost than tourism as the result of this deal,” he said” writes Saeed Kamali Dehghan for the guardian.

10Azerbaijan’s oil production fell by 1.7% year-on-year. In June 2015 oil production in Azerbaijan declined by 2.5% compared to May 2015.The State Statistics Committee reports that in Jan-Jun the country produced 20.971 million tons of oil that was less than production in Jan-Jun 2014 by 1.7%.

Journalist, specialized in Middle East, Russia & FSU, Terrorism and Security issues. Founder and Editor-in-chief of the Modern Diplomacy magazine. follow @DGiannakopoulos

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UNIDO, Italy support small manufacturers in Iran to comply with global environmental agreements

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The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Iran’s National Ozone Unit (NOU) today organized a workshop in Tehran to formulate a technical and business strategy to support small manufacturers of refrigeration equipment and insulation material with the adoption of new ozone- and climate-friendly substances and technologies. This will contribute to Iran’s efforts to comply with its commitment, under the Montreal Protocol, to reduce its use of ozone-depleting substances – specifically, hydro-chlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) – commonly used in this sector.

Through the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, UNIDO and Italy assist small manufacturers of refrigeration equipment in Iran – ranging from small chillers to domestic and commercial-scale refrigerators – to adapt their manufacturing processes and products in compliance with the second stage of the HCFC phase-out plan set by the Iranian government.

During the workshop, technology suppliers explained how small manufacturers can continue their operations with alternative chemical substances, while maintaining safety. “The NOU will consider the outputs of this workshop in the national strategy, hoping to successfully meet challenges ahead, specifically for small and medium-sized enterprises,” said Medi Bakhshizade, project coordinator of Iran’s National Ozone Office.

Several alternatives to HCFCs are readily available, but some of them are known to have high global warming potentials (GWP). Under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, a direct switch to natural refrigerants, which have zero ozone depleting potential (ODP) and low GWP, is encouraged.

In the case of Iran, the most promising alternative for small companies is cyclopentane, which could be locally produced if there is enough demand. However, the substance is high flammable, meaning new technical skills and safety installations and equipment would be required and these constitute a major financial barrier for small companies. Active cooperation between companies, local chemical formulators and technology suppliers could help tackle this barrier.

UNIDO project manager Fukuya Iino said, “UNIDO would like to promote energy-efficient technologies while phasing out HCFCs. Small companies are faced with challenges to adopt new technologies, and this is why we are asking possible technology suppliers to share their know-how with them.”

A number of technology and financing options to support small manufacturing companies were presented during the workshop. The event offered a platform for small beneficiary manufacturers, technology suppliers, chemical material formulators, governmental focal points, and other stakeholders, to share knowledge and develop partnerships.

Among participating speakers were technology suppliers from Italy (two), Australia (one) and Iran (one). Forty-five participants actively joined the discussion between speakers, panel members, and the audience.

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The Future of the Armenian-Chinese Relations

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December 13-16, 2018, Yerevan- leading scholars from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences were invited by the “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, foundation to visit Armenia. Within the framework of the visit with their Armenian colleagues Dr. Xiao Bin, Dr. Bao Yi and Dr. Wu Hongwei participated in an academic seminar “China, Eurasia and Armenia: Views from Yerevan and Beijing.” It is worth mentioning that Chinese initiative “One Belt, One Road” provides a lot of opportunities to other states to get Chinese investments, but they are not any big Chinese investments in Armenia, even if we compare with other South Caucasian countries. Professor Wu Hongwei emphasized that the Chinese-Georgian relations have developed dynamically, and the Chinese side is making huge investments there. He expressed hopes that through the information and contacts with Armenian specialists obtained during the visit, it will be possible to draw new recommendations through which it will be possible to develop economic relations with Armenia. In turn, Dr. Bao Yi presented her research on China’s humanitarian cooperation with Central Asian countries and noted that this successful experience can also be used in the South Caucasus. Dr. Xiao Bing introduced his paper on promotion of the cooperation of international capacity under One Belt, One Road initiative in the era of technological transformation.

The head of the ARMACAD, Dr. Khachik Gevorgyan told  about the  prospects of the ARMACAD in the  development of Sino-Armenian academic relations in the framework of the One Belt, One Road.

The organizer of this academic event, Dr. Mher Sahakyan, head of the “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, foundation, spoke about the prospects for the development of the Armenian-Chinese relations in the framework of the Chinese initiative. As he noted, if a branch of one of the leading Chinese banks opened or if Armenia and China establish a joint bank, the result will be significant financial investments in Armenia. The financial field of the country will be diversified, and if Dram-Renminbi conversion is implemented, bilateral trade between Armenia and China will be realized in their own currencies. He recommended, that Armenia can try to stand a Regional member of the Asian Infrastructure bank and after get sovereign backed or non-sovereign backed loans for its state-owned noncommercial organizations, private organizations, and international organizations which works in the territory of Armenia, that they invest this money in Armenian North-South Road Corridor, whichwill significantly enhance Armenia’s capabilities to be involved in the Silk Road Economic Belt’s China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Belt. Armenia and China can also start cooperation in UN peacekeeping missions, as both states are interested in it.

Dr. Mher Sahakyan, also talked about the possibility of creating an Armenian-Chinese joint military-industrial center in Armenia, which will produce military robots, drones and so forth.

He also noted that Armenia can negotiate with China for its participation in the “Digital Silk Road,” Armenia and China can also cooperate on the research of the development of the 5G.

After the academic seminar Chinese and Armenian scholars agreed to strengthen cooperation between the Armenian Foundation “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, to conduct joint research and make recommendations for the development of Armenian-Chinese relations.

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Circular Economy: Proposal to boost the use of organic and waste-based fertilisers

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The EU institutions have found an agreement on new EU rules on fertilisers proposed by the Commission in 2016 as a key deliverable of the Circular Economy Package.

Negotiators from the European Parliament, Council and Commission have reached a preliminary political agreement on the Commission’s proposal from March 2016 which built on the Commission’s 2015 Circular Economy Action Plan.

The new rules will facilitate the access of organic and waste-based fertilisers to the EU Single Market. It also introduces limits for cadmium and other contaminants in phosphate fertilisers. This will help to reduce waste, energy consumption and environmental damage, as well as limit the risks to human health.

Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “Unlike traditional fertilisers which are highly energy intensive and rely on scarce natural resources, bio-waste fertilisers have the potential to make farming more sustainable. These new rules will also help to create a new market for reused raw materials in line with our efforts to build a circular economy in Europe.”

Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “The new EU rules will open up new market opportunities for innovative companies producing organic fertilisers and create new local jobs, provide wider choice for our farmers and protect our soils and food. At the same time we are also making sure that our European industry will be able to adapt to the proposed changes.”  

The main elements of the new rules are:

Opening the Single Market for organic fertilisers: The agreement on the Fertilising Products Regulation will open the market for new and innovative organic fertilisers by defining the conditions under which these can access the EU Single Market. The Regulation will provide common rules on safety, quality and labelling requirements for all fertilisers to be traded freely across the EU. Producers will need to demonstrate that their products meet those requirements before affixing the CE mark.

Introducing limit values for toxic contaminants in certain fertilisers:The Regulation for the first time introduces limits for toxic contaminants, including a new 60 mg/kg limit for cadmium which will be further reviewed 4 years after the date of application. This will guarantee a high level of soil protection and reduce health and environmental risks, while allowing producers to adapt their manufacturing process to comply with the new limits. To encourage the use of even safer fertilisers, producers will also be able to use a low-cadmium label applicable to products with less than 20mg/kg cadmium content. These rules will affect those fertilisers that choose to affix CE marking.

Maintaining optional harmonisation:The Regulation also offers the possibility to opt for optional harmonisation. A manufacturer who does not wish to CE-mark the product can choose to comply with national standards and sell the product to other EU countries based on the principle of mutual recognition.

Next steps

The preliminary political agreement reached by the European Parliament, Council and Commission in so-called trialogue negotiations has today been confirmed by the Member States’ representatives and is now subject to formal approval by the European Parliament and Council. The Regulation will then be directly applicable in all Member States and will become mandatory in 2022.

Background

Under the 2015 Circular Economy Action Plan, the Commission called for a revision of the EU regulation on fertilisers to facilitate the EU-wide recognition of organic and waste-based fertilisers. The sustainable use of fertilisers made from organic waste material in agriculture could reduce the need for mineral-based fertilisers, the production of which has negative environmental impacts, and depends on imports of phosphate rock, a limited resource.

Under current rules, only conventional, non-organic fertilisers, typically extracted from mines or produced chemically can freely be traded across the EU. Innovative fertilising products produced from organic materials are outside the scope of the current Fertilisers Regulation. Their access to the single market is therefore dependant on mutual recognition between Member States, which is often difficult due to diverging national rules. Such products therefore have a competitive disadvantage which hampers innovation and investment in the circular economy.

According to estimates, if more bio-waste was recycled, it could replace up to 30 % of non-organic fertilisers. Currently, the EU imports around 6 million tonnes of phosphates a year but could replace up to 30% of this total by extraction from sewage sludge, biodegradable waste, meat and bone meal or manure.

The Commission has also recently presented a new Bioeconomy Strategy, as announced by President Juncker and First Vice-President Timmermans in their letter of intent accompanying President Juncker’s 2018 State of the Union Address, which will further support the scaling up the sustainable use of renewable resources and  boost jobs, growth and investment into a sustainable circular bioeconomy in Europe.

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