Perizat RISBEK KIZI
Amid growing concerns about a possible halt in Russian gas supplies to Europe in response to proposed Western sanctions against Moscow, Europe and Azerbaijan are discussing increasing supplies of gas exported to the West.
The EU began to look for new gas suppliers
The energy crisis, exacerbated by strained relations with Moscow, is pushing Brussels to look for new sources of natural gas from other places. The Financial Times writes that the US and the EU are negotiating with suppliers in Asia and the Middle East. In particular, US officials have already talked with Qatar and other major gas exporters about additional supplies of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to EU. In turn, Brussels is discussing the possibility of expanding gas supplies with Azerbaijan.
West calls Azerbaijan to increase gas supplies to Europe
More and more European countries are showing interest in Azerbaijan’s natural gas resources. On January 30, European Union Foreign Minister Josep Borrell confirmed that Brussels is negotiating with Baku.
“One of the top priorities is to increase our resilience, including by working with partners such as the US, Qatar and Azerbaijan on gas exports in case Russia decides to cut or stop supplies,” he wrote.
On February 4, European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, after a meeting in Baku with Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, said that the EU would welcome an increase in Azerbaijan’s natural gas supplies to Europe to 10 billion cubic meters per year. According to her, the EU has close relations with Azerbaijan, which is a “reliable energy supplier”.
A new phase of cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan in the field of energy: TAP
Due to its geopolitical position in the Caucasus region, as well as its oil and gas resources, the Azerbaijan plays an important geo-economic role in the transit of energy resources to Europe. As a result of the work done, at the end of 2020, the Trans-Adriatic Gas Pipeline (TAP) was put into operation, through which Azerbaijani gas flows through Greece and Albania and through the Adriatic Sea to Italy. The deliveries are designed for 25 years, the contract provides for the export of more than 10 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas to Europe.
TAP is a continuation of the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) as a segment of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), designed to provide Turkey and Southern Europe with blue fuel supplies from the Azerbaijani Shah Deniz field on the Caspian shelf. The total length of TAP is 878 km, of which 550 km passes through the northern part of Greece, 215 km through the territory of Albania, 105 km through the Adriatic Sea and 8 km through the territory of Italy.
Expansion of gas pipeline capacity
In 2021, European countries purchased 8.2 billion cubic meters of gas, with an increase in volume expected in the coming years. According to the Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR, which is one of the main shareholders of TAP and the Shah Deniz field development project, where the exported gas is produced, the TAP consortium is currently conducting market research and may decide to invest in expanding capacities in this year. Moreover, the European Union expects that the volume of Azerbaijani gas supplies to Europe via the SGC will soon reach the planned figures – 10 billion cubic meters. This was stated on Friday at a press conference of a ministerial meeting within the Advisory Council of the SGC European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson.
Baku can channel gas from Turkmenistan from fields at the Caspian Sea
On Friday, January 28, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the UK, Elin Suleymanov, announced Azerbaijan’s readiness to increase natural gas production and exports to Europe if needed. According to Elin Suleymanov, Baku can also channel gas from Turkmenistan from fields at the Caspian Sea. Some observers say that last year’s agreement between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan to jointly develop the once-controversial Dostlug field in the Caspian Sea could lead the two countries to join forces to increase gas supplies to Europe.