Azerbaijan to open new stage in European energy security
By Aygun Badalova
Azerbaijani gas will be the first alternative source for the European Union is due to reach European countries in 2019. Greece will be the starting point in the European direction transportation route. Gas will be transported through the Trans Adriatic Pipeline in the amount of ten billion cubic meters with the possibility of the further expansion.
On the basis of the commercial contracts with the European buyers, Greece will get about one billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas. That is not big amount, but for the country, which is highly dependent on one source, this gas will play an important role in Greece's energy security.
The consumption of gas in Greece amounted to 3.6 billion cubic meters in 2013 which is 11.5 percent less than in 2012, according to BP's recent statistical review. In total Greece imported three billion cubic meters of gas through the pipeline. 2.4 billion cubic meters of that amount Greece imported from Russia.
The importance of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline was recently stressed during the meeting of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev with Prime Minister of Greece Antonis Samaras in Athens.
In particular, Samars said that TAP, which will transport Azerbaijani gas to the European market, will play an important role in meeting Greek, Italian and Albanian needs in gas.
"This vertical corridor will provide the Balkan countries, as well as Central and Eastern Europe with natural gas coming from the South to the North. I am confident that, in accordance with the plans and our previous talks, we will discuss the issue of increasing the volume of fuel that will be transported by TAP in the future. We expect that, mainly by SOCAR, Azerbaijan will become the most active and interested party in the energy landscape," Samaras said.
It was also stressed the importance of the acquisition of DESFA's assets by Azerbaijan's State Oil Company. This purchase have a big importance in terms of increase of Azerbaijan's role in providing European energy security, as well as attracting foreign investments in Greece.
President Aliyev said that the TAP project will create a new format of broad regional cooperation of the Caspian Sea, the Caucasus and Europe.
The importance of TAP also consists in the wide opportunities which it provides in terms of the expansion of the pipeline's capacity, as well as creating new market directions for Azerbaijani gas.
Through agreements with other pipeline system operators and national governments, and its commitment to channel a proportion of TAP's capacity into the South Eastern European region, TAP has the potential to create new gas markets and enhance energy security in South East Europe.
Currently TAP works with the developers of the proposed Ionian Adriatic Pipeline, which will start in Albania and runs to the North through Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and beyond, perhaps to Slovenia and through Slovenia to northern Italy or Switzerland. It is expected that TAP will get a concrete delineation after 2020-2022.
TAP's landfall in Italy also provides opportunities for transporting Caspian gas further to the west - to France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, and even the UK. In particular, TAP can reach Austria and Hungary via the Trans Austria Gas pipeline, Germany and France via the Transitgas pipeline through Switzerland.
TAP can also supply Bulgaria by connecting to existing or planned infrastructure such as Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria.
Bulgaria's gas consumption amounted 2.4 billion cubic meters in 2013 while Italy consumed 57.8 billion cubic meters of gas last year, according to BP. Italy imported 24.9 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia.
The launch of transportation of Azerbaijani gas to the European market in 2019 will open a new page in the history of energy. It will mark new milestone for European energy security. The EU countries will get new energy supply source while Azerbaijan will strengthen its position as a reliable supplier.